Allianz National Hurling League Division 3A
YOU will go a long way to see a finish like the one witnessed at Garvaghey on Saturday, as 11-man Tyrone fought back from four points down to stun Warwickshire in a pulsating National League contest.
Three straight red cards were meted out to Tyrone would suggest a contest full of rancour, but this contest was anything but dirty, as both teams battled in Baltic conditions.
Padraig McHugh walked first in first-half stoppage time, when striking the sliotar towards the referee in protest at a decision against him and, then in the second-half goalkeeper Conor McElhatton exchanged verbals with an umpire before Matthew Mulgrew was carded when reacting to a disgraceful challenge that went unpunished.
The fourth dismissal followed Tiarnan Morgan’s second yellow card infraction in injury-time, as he prevented Pauric Crehan from going for a match clinching goal.
With a little over five minutes remaining Warwickshire looked primed for victory as they enjoyed a 1-12 to 0-11 advantage, but they retreated into a defensive shell and invited Tyrone pressure onto them. Tyrone accepted the challenge and reeled off the final six points to rescue an unthinkable and unlikely win.
Damien Casey supplied five of those scores on his way to an impressive 0-12 contribution, but the ace marksman had an off-day by his own usual high standards with the orders coming from the sideline to change free-takers midway through the second-half.
However, it is testimony to Casey that when the pressure was on he stepped up in style to deliver the telling blows that left Warwickshire reflecting on what might have been.
Warks goalkeeper Michael Cremin denied Sean Og Grogan an early goal at the expense of a ‘65 that came to nothing before the visitors opened the scoring via a Pauric Crehan free on six minutes. Mulgrew restored parity and even though Casey, with two fantastic strikes, edged Tyrone 3-1 in front, they were struggling to complete the basics.
Their first touch left a lot to be desired and on several occasions Tyrone took the wrong options that allowed Warks to settle. The industry of Willie Allen, Pauric Treacy and Chris Brough in defence was reciprocated in attack where John Reddan, Crehan and late replacement Colm McBride yielded five unanswered points in a 12- minute period. Midfielder Liam Reale led the charge and, with Tyrone clocking up the wides, Joe Meagher, Reddan, Treacy from a ‘65 and Crehan all raised white flags for a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage by the 23rd minute.
Aidan Kelly pointed following a battling passage of play with two further Casey strikes levelling the contest for a third time, but Warks continued to look the better team and, two outstanding scores from defender Jac Quinn and Ogie Long allowed them to enjoy an 0-8 to 0-6 interval lead.
Even then Tyrone were facing an uphill struggle as Cavan referee James Clarke red carded McHugh for directing the sliotar towards him as frustration surfaced.
Within 15 seconds on the restart skipper Kelly trimmed the deficit but with Warks deploying the extra man in defence they successfully quelled several promising attacks. Crehan nailed a free on 41 minutes only for Gilmore and Casey to haul the favourites level entering the final quarter.
Crehan and Casey swapped frees to maintain the status quo before a Conor Robins point heralded another period of pressure from Warks as the visitors’ running game wreaked havoc. That dominance yielded a goal on 53 minutes when Shane Morrissey tapped home from close range after goalkeeper McElhatton stopped his initial effort, 1-11 to 0-10.
Casey retorted from another placed ball, but the wheels were coming off the home wagon because keeper McElhatton was straight red carded for voicing his views to the umpire, with Crehan tapping over the softest of frees on 57 minutes. Moments later Mulgrew saw red and, while Casey knocked over a free, Tyrone were on the ropes.
However, with Justin Kelly moving out field to provide much needed stability, Tyrone rose to the challenge in style. Conor Grogan, Casey, Gilmore and Chris Cross all responded to Kelly’s leadership as they staged a herculean revival. Casey and Justin Kelly narrowed the gap from play before a tenth from Casey levelled the issue for a 6th time entering injury-time.
Casey converted two further frees before the hosts were reduced to eleven players, Morgan collecting a second yellow as he desperately stopped Crehan going for a match winning goal.
Tyrone pointed the final six scores to complete a remarkable turnaround.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Tyrone: C McElhatton, C McNally, J Kelly (0-1), L Armstrong, P McHugh, T Morgan, D Rafferty, C Cross, A Kelly (0-2), D Casey (0-12), G Gilmore (0-1), C Grogan, M Mulgrew (0-1), S Og Grogan, P Daly. Subs used: C McNulty for Daly, J Devlin for Armstrong.
Warwickshire: M Cremin, M O’Reagan, W Allen, J Quinn, C Brough, P Treacy (0-1), J Meagher (0-1), L Reale (0-1), C Robins (0-1), S Morrissey (1-0), J Reddan (0-1), S Conlon, O Long (0-1), P Crehan (0-5), C McBride. Subs used: D Heffernan for Conlon
Referee: James Clarke (Cavan)