By Paddy Hunter
Four late points from Tyrone talisman Damien Casey dragged Tyrone over the line to an unlikely two point win over a battling Warwickshire at Garvaghey on Saturday.
The visitors looked on course for a win when Shane Morrissey scrambled home a goal with ten minutes to go, Tyrone down to twelve men after three straight red cards and rocking, they finished with eleven players but somehow came from four points down to snatch the win.
Warwickshire impressed throughout, nine different scorers and some good hurling gave them a real chance of a much needed win although in a closing seven minute spell they failed to get a break and Tyrone latched on six points without reply with Casey, out of sorts for much of the game finding his range finishing with twelve points.
It had been score for score through the opening quarter, Pauric Crehen opened the scoring six minutes in with a long range free.
Matty Mulgrew, and a brace from Casey gave Tyrone the advantage before Liam Reale, impressive at midfied spun to add a second Warwickshire point with raiding half back Joe Meagher driving over a fine equalising score on seventeen minutes.
Tyrone huffed and puffed as Warwickshire caused them problems, Reale and midfield partner Conor Robins were in control as the hosts missed several opportunities. John Reddin and Pauric Tracey landed big scores and another Crehan free gave Warwickshire a three point lead.
Tyrone captain Aidan Kelly pulled a point back for his side with Casey pointing twice in quick succession to level matters with two minutes remaining in the half, still time for controversy though as Tyrone half back Padraig McHugh was red carded when he appeared to strike the ball at referee James Clarke, his side further punished as Jac Quinn and Ogie Long gave Warwickshire a two point half time lead.
Kelly exchanged early second half scores with Crehen as Casey and Kelly missed frees.
Dungannon man Casey and a well taken Gearld Gilmore point closed the gap again but Crehan again kept Warwickshire in the lead, the bustling full forward also saw two goal chances cleared by Justin Kelly as they tried to press home their dominance.
Tyrone were living off scraps with Casey keeping them on the scoreboard with a free.
A Conor Robins point after strong build up play on the right left was quickly followed by Morrissey’s goal, his initial shot was blocked down by Kelly and Conor McNally but the rebound was somehow turned in by the Casements forward, his side now four to the good.
Crehan landed a twelfth point for Warwickshire as the wheels looked to have come off the Tyrone wagon, goalkeeper Conor McElhatton got a straight red for alleged comments made to the umpire and that was followed by a third straight red, this time for Matty Mulgrew who was allegedly on the receiving end of a knock but still found himself dismissed, Tyrone expected to appeal that dubious call by the Cavan official.
John Devlin was drafted into goals with Liam Armstrong withdrawn as Tyrone tried to regroup.
As the game headed towards the closing stages it took a cool head to try and get Tyrone back into the game. As he so often has it was Damien Casey who delivered, a massive free from half way dropped over and he turned over a stunning point from distance on the left to close the gap. Full back Justin Kelly roved forward to land a mammoth point with Casey equalising as the game entered injury time.
Warwickshire could not get over the halfway line as Tyrone pressed for the winner, Casey was again on target with a free and that was quickly followed by another long range effort from the Eoghain Rua clubman after a super catch by Conor Grogan saw him upended on the right.
A two point advantage it was but there was one last chance for the visitors, a close range free when Tiarnan Morgan fouled Crehan, in the process picking up a second yellow card followed by a red.
Tyrone pulled everyone behind the ball as Liam Reale drilled his effort goalbound only to be swallowed up by the twelve man Tyrone defence as the referee called a halt to proceedings.
A remarkable encounter punctuated by some fine scores from both teams, some fine hurling and those four red cards. Credit to Warwickshire they have some fine hurlers and once again came close to a merited return for their efforts.
TYRONE: Conor McElhatton, Conor McNally, Justin Kelly 0-1, Liam Armstrong, Padraig McHugh, Tiarnan Morgan, Dean Rafferty, Chris Cross, Aidan Kelly 0-2, Damien Casey 0-12, Gerard Gilmore 0-1, Conor Grogan, Matthew Mulgrew 0-1 Sean Og Grogan, Peader Daly
SUBS: Ciaran McNulty for Daly , John Devlin for Armstrong.
WARWICKSHIRE: Michael Cremin, Michael O’Reagan, Willie Allen, Jac Quinn 0-1, Chris Brough, Pauric Tracey 0-1, Joe Meagher 0-1, Liam Reale 0-1, Conor Robins, Shane Morrissey 1-0, John Reddin 0-1, Shane Conlon, Ogie Long 0-1, Pauric Crehan 0-4, Colm McBride.
SUBS: Damien Heffernan for Conlon.
REFEREE: James Clarke Cavan.