A SPIRITED rally in the closing stages of this All-Ireland Super Eight clash just failed to earn Tyrone at least a draw after a high intensity clash finished 1-14 to 0-14 in favour of Dublin.
It was tense, exciting and dramatic in Omagh as the Red Hands came close to inflicting a rare championship defeat on the reigning Sam Maguire Cup holders.
But the three point loss before an attendance of 16,205 mean that their hopes of reaching the All-Ireland semi-final now depend a final round showdown with Donegal.
James McCarthy’s goal early in the second half provided the Dubs with the cushion that they needed. His initial shot was well saved by Niall Morgan, before the rebound was deflected into the net.
While Tyrone battled hard subsequently, their efforts didn’t yield the desired outcome.
Instead, that goal proved to be the key moment in a clash that fulfilled the expectations for a close encounter. The exchanges were tough and uncompromising on occasions as Healy Park rocked like never before.
There was never more than two points separating the teams during the opening period. A series of well-taken scores enthralled the crowd, and proved to the Red Hand fans that this team has the ability to compete effectively with the championship specialists.
However, on the field, they had to be on form. Well-taken points from Peter Harte, Tiarnan McCann, Frank Burns and Michael McKernan kept them in touch as Dean Rock, Brian Howard, Jack McCaffrey and John Small led the way for Dublin.
More important was the ability of players such as Colm Cavanagh, Ronan McNamee, Hugh Pat McGeary and Conor Meyler to thwart the strong running of their opponents, even though they were never able to edge ahead.
That goal shortly after the restart threatened to gave the Dubs a decisive edge. Further scores courtesy of Ciaran Kilkenny, Dean Rock and Kevin McManamon saw them go 1-11 to 0-8 ahead at one stage.
But Tyrone responded with character and spirit. Substitutes Harry Loughran, Kieran McGeary and Mark Bradley added a fresh impetus and they were soon making progress in cutting the deficit. Five points in the closing 10 minutes brought them to the brink of earning something from the game.
Cathal McShane, Peter Harte, Kieran McGeary and Harry Loughran all fired over as Tyrone’s ability to challenge the kick-outs and tenacious tackling finally yielded some dividends.
Dublin, though, held out for the three point win, and the task for Tyrone is to reproduce the form displayed in this game when they make the tough visit to Ballybofey for that crucial Super Eight decider in a fortnight.