By Mike Fitzpatrick
On first glance at the lineups for this senior football Div. 1 game Sunday at Gaelic Park, two items stood out: the omission of Cork’s star midfielder, Pat Mahoney, and the return of Michael Slowey for Tyrone.
Slowey missed Tyrone’s last championship game versus Leitrim, but with on-form scorer Slowey back in the side, Tyrone were clearly a more powerful side in front of goal. Cork have had a disastrous opening to their 1999 campaign, having been beaten by Monaghan and Donegal, despite opening each tie with a number of early scores, and even leads against such quality opposition. This tie was to be no exception, and despite some fine first-half play from Jimmy O’Flynn, Billy Horan and Eric Dockery, who all hit points, Cork found themselves chasing Tyrone midway through the first half.
Tyrone forwards Slowey and John Cormican each hit three points, and a well-executed goal from Gary McConnell, in which he came face to face with Tom Fitzgibbon in the Cork goal to punch over his head, proved to be the difference between the sides at halftime.
Tyrone’s 3-point lead proved to be enough and seldom afterward did they look to be in danger of losing the game.
Although Kiley and Dockery performed reasonably well, Cork missed Mahoney’s presence in midfield. Cork put up a spirited display in the second half, scoring four points from Cronin and a goal from Jimmy O’Flynn, which clearly suggested that Liam Bermingham’s charges weren’t merely here to make up the numbers.
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The final score, a 5-point victory for Tyrone, will lift the Ulster side a little, having lost their last game at Gaelic Park. Cork are in serious trouble now, and are obviously staring relegation in the face unless they can pick up their season immediately and steal points against sides who are as desperate for wins as they are, albeit for different reasons.
Tyrone: Mike Deere, Aidan Lloyd, Sean Teague, Mark Daly, Philip Sloane, Martin Slowey, Collie Fearon, Danny Barr, Paddy Redmond, Mark Sloane (0-1), Michael Slowey (0-6), John Cormican (0-3), Philip Mallon, Gary McConnell (1-1), Stephen Conway (1-0), Subs Sean Regan (0-1), Eamonn Devlin (0-1).
Cork: Tom Fitzgibbon, Brendan O’Connor, Tom O’Riordan, John Donovan, Denis Mahoney, Mick Donovan, Barry John Ryan, Eric Dockery (0-2), Denis Kiley (0-1), John Paul Kiley, Billy Horan (0-2), Jimmy O’Flynn (1-2), Brendan Wylie, James McSweeney (0-1), Dan Ryan. Sub Anthony Cronin (0-4).