Tyrone 2-21 Louth 0-10
Tyrone found their mojo at Healy Park, where they subjected Louth to a punishing and demoralising 17 points defeat in the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers.
It was only in the second half that the Red Hands managed to turn on the power and display their explosive potential.
Leading by two points at the break, they looked set for a tight tussle and a difficult test against a Louth side that has troubled them frequently in the past along the back door route.
But all changed in the blink of an eye just 15 minutes after the restart, when Emmet McKenna smashed home a goal that effectively opened the floodgates.
Stephen O’Neill added a second soon afterwards, and Louth’s dispirited players never recovered.
A crowd of 3,912 witnessed a plucky display from the Wee County in the first half as they recovered from a shaky start to take the game to the home side.
Darren McCurry slotted over two points inside the opening two minutes, one of them from O’Neill’s delightful reverse pass, as Tyrone rose to the pace of the game in double-quick time.
Sean Cavanagh and McCurry both converted frees, but there was a scare for the Red Hands when Andy McDonnell sent wing back Adrian Reid clear, but he sent his angled shot wide at the far post.
McDonnell opened Louth’s account in the eighth minute, followed by a neat score from teenager Ryan Burns, a late call-up to the starting fifteen.
A sweeping move involving McCurry, Emmet McKenna and Ciaran McGinley ended with Connor McAliskey slotting over a point, but Burns added his second point on 22 minutes to spark a scoring flourish for the visitors.
Substitute Conor Grimes steered over a superb effort from wide on the left, before McDonnell made it four on the spin, narrowing the gap to a single point ten minutes before the break.
Sean Cavanagh slotted over a couple of frees, but Brian White’s second free narrowed the gap to two, the home side ahead by 0-9 to 0-7 at the interval.
But the Red Hands exploded into spectacular action at the start of the second half. Emmet McKenna appeared on Peter Harte’s shoulder to blast home a goal after just 15 seconds, and Stephen O’Neill palmed home a second five minutes later from Mattie Donnelly’s cross to the far post.
Louth were deflated and dispirited and never recovered. Indeed they crumbled under the pressure that the fast-moving Red Hands imposed on their back-pedalling opponents.
Goalkeeper Niall Morgan stepped up to steer four frees between the posts, including a ’45 conceded when his opposite number Gallagher pushed a McGinley effort around a post.
Louth abandoned their sweeper system and huge gaps opened up in a hard-pressed defence that last two of its number – Padraig Rath and John O’Brien – to black cards.
Colm Cavanagh’s workrate was once again a feature of the Red Hand effort, and Connor McAliskey justified his recall with a fourth point from play.
Louth managed just three second half points, two of them in the dying moments, from Colm Judge and Conor Grimes.
And in another major boost to Tyrone, Joe McMahon came off the bench for his first appearance since last August’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Mayo.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-4, 3f, 1 ’45), A McCrory, R McNamee, PJ Quinn, R McNabb, M Donnelly, P Harte, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-5, 4f), E McKenna (1-1), S McGuigan, C McGinley (0-1), D McCurry (0-6, 3f), S O’Neill (1-0), C McAliskey (0-4).
Subs: Joe McMahon for C Cavanagh (53), P Kane for O’Neill (53), Justin McMahon for Donnelly (55), M Penrose for McCurry (59), N McKenna for S Cavanagh (66), R McKenna for Quinn (66)
Louth: N Gallagher: P Rath, D Finnegan, J Bingham, J O’Brien, D Crilly, A Reid, P Keenan, M Fanning, A McDonnell (0-2), B White (0-2, 2f), D Maguire, C Judge (0-1), S Lennon, R Burns (0-3, 1f).
Subs: C Grimes (0-2) for Lennon (19), D O’Hanlon for Rath (37, BC), C Rafferty for White (42), J Stewart for O’Brien (47, BC), K McLoughlin for McDonnell (63)
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).