Tyrone and Down to face off again after see-saw battle

Tyrone 2-11 Down 3-8

Tyrone and Down to face off again after see-saw battle

Tyrone 2-11 Down 3-8

Sean Cavanagh rescued Tyrone with two late frees to send a dramatic Ulster SFC preliminary-round tie to a replay.

The sides will meet again at Newry next Saturday to decide who goes through to meet provincial champions Monaghan.

The Red Hands led at seven points at one stage, having gained a decisive edge during an uneventful first half.

But this game exploded into action after the break as the Mourne men stunned Mickey Harte’s side with three goals.

But for a handful of late misses, included an inexplicable wide from the normally reliable Donal O’Hare, James McCartan’s charges would have pulled off a shockj at Healy Park.

It was Tyrone who struck the opening two scores in a sluggish opening in difficult conditions as the rain fell on Healy Park.

Goalkeeper Niall Morgan landed a long-range free, and Sean Cavanagh angled over a delightful score, before Donal O’Hare opened the Down account from a free.

Tyrone were creating plenty of chances thanks to the workrate of Colm Cavanagh and Conor Clarke in midfield, allied to the efforts of the industrious Mark Donnelly, with Mattie Donnelly probing from the back.

But they repeatedly fell down when it came to the vital art of finishing - Ciaran McGinley and Mattie Donnelly both missing the target with decent opportunities.

Darren McCurry and Cavanagh knocked over frees, but Tyrone needed a timely intervention from Morgan as the Mourne men threatened on the breakaway.

He raced off his line to intercept on the 20-metre line as Conor Laverty attempted to release Niall Madine on goal.

But it was the Red Hands who struck for a goal in the 25th minute. Mark Donnelly collected Cavanagh’s sideline kick, and managed to finish the ball to the net from close range despite being fouled.

Referee David Coldrick opted not to play the advantage rule, and awarded a penalty, which Peter Harte smashed to the net.

The home side managed just two points from play in that first half, and hit nine wides, before taking a 1-5 to 0-3 lead into the interval.

Down manager James McCartan made a handful of signifncnt changes, making a triple substitution at half-time, including the introduction of Benny Coulter, who surprisingly lined out at midfield.

Another of those subs, Jerome Johnson, made an immediate impact, winning a penalty which also earned Morgan a black card in the 39th minute.

But it was Johnson’s Ryan who did most of the damage with a sparkling display up front, running a series of markers ragged.

Substitute ‘keeper Mickey O’Neill faced up to Aidan Carr’s kick, but had no chance with a bullet which almost ripped the net off at the Gortin Road end.

But Kyle Coney delivered a defiant response with two delightful points, before another Down replacement, Ryan Johnson sent Madine in for a point.

The game exploded into life with three goals in the space of four minutes early in the final quarter.

Stephen O’Neill, in as a sub for his first appearance this year, played a key role in the flowing move which ended with Darren McCurry rifling his shot past Brendan McVeigh.

But Down’s response was devastating. With Kevin McKernan driving their challenge and Ryan Johnson tormenting the Tyrone defence, they stunned their hosts with two goals in the space of three minutes.

Johnson sent Donal O’Hare in to finish past sub ‘keeper O’Neill, and three minutes later, Conor Laverty slipped the ball to Conor Maginn for a superb goal.

Mark Poland gave Down the lead for the first time on 61 minutes, and Coulter stretched the advantage.

But skipper Cavanagh rescued the Red Hands, winning and converting two late frees to send the teams back to Newry for the rematch.

Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1, f), A McCrory, D McBride, B Tierney, T McCann, Mattie Donnelly, P Harte (1-0, pen), C Cavanagh, C Clarke, Mark Donnelly, S Cavanagh (0-5, 3f), C McGinley, D McCurry (1-2, 0-2f), N McKenna, K Coney (0-3).

Subs: R McKenna for McCann, M O’Neill for Morgan (BC), S O’Neill for N McKenna, J McMahon for McBride, C Gormley for Tierney, M Penrose for McGinley.

Down: B McVeigh, D McCartan, B McArdle, R Boyle, D Rooney, A Carr (1-0, pen), C Garvey (0-1), P Turley, A Rogers (0-1), C Maginn (1-0), M Poland (0-1), K McKernan, D O’Hare (1-2, 0-2f), N Madine (0-1), C Laverty (0-1).

Subs: R Johnson for Boyle, B Coulter (0-1) for Turley, J Johnson for Rogers, L Doyle for J Johnson, D Turley for Garvey, P Devlin for Maginn (BC).

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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