LAST NIGHT, TYRONE came about as close as any team has done to breaking Dublin’s two-year long unbeaten streak.

It’s a mark of the champions though that they kept plugging away, brushing off the psychological blow of Dean Rock’s missed second-half penalty to level the game deep into stoppage-time.

​”It’s never over until it’s over,” Tyrone boss Mickey Harte said afterwards.

“No matter how many points you are up against Dublin you always know that you are under threat. They’re a quality side, they’re capable of turning things their way in an instant.”

Mark Bradley was dismissed for an off-the-ball altercation with Jonny Cooper inside the last ten minutes as Dublin whittled down a four-point deficit on the home straight.

“The sending off obviously didn’t help us, it’s hard enough to play them with 15 men, with 14 it’s just that bit harder.

“It certainly didn’t help our cause and it left us a bit vulnerable on their counter attack where we didn’t have the luxury of being able to play a sweeper.

“I don’t think Mark Bradley would be the kind of guy who would start incidents like that either. He got the wrong end of the stick, I feel, because there was a bit of a schemozzle, or whatever you want to call it, and I don’t think what he did was a sending off offence.

“I don’t think he would be starting anything because it wouldn’t be in his interest to do that but it happened and somebody in their wisdom decided what to do with it and we have to live with it now.”

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The Ulster champions also lost star man Tiernan McCann to a black card inside the first half, and that decision frustrated Harte.

“I don’t make much of the black card ever,” he said. “It is so inconsistently administered that it is frustrating.

“To think that Tiernan McCann got one tonight and I saw other events on that pitch which were, in my eyes, worse than what he did.

“So it is the consistency or inconsistency of the application of it that frustrates me and frustrates the players. We have to live with it.”

Niall Sludden tackles Jack McCaffrey

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Although they’ll leave the capital with a tinge of regret at their failure to get one over on the back-to-back All-Ireland champions, there was plenty to leave Harte optimistic that his team are on the right track.

“(Declan McClure) is a real bonus for us, we knew he was a good player, we though it would take a bit longer for him to mature into a regular. But the way he’s playing at the minute I think he’s putting his hand up very well to be considered in every game that we’ve played so far.

“I thought Niall Sludden’s score taking tonight was immense in what was very, very difficult conditions against a very good side regardless of their level of fitness at this stage of the year.

“A lot of our new, younger players can take confidence from it. The fact that they are after being toe to toe with maybe not the whole full Dublin team but a good number of them across the night and they can say that they stood up well to that challenge.

“If they had never been in that place then they wouldn’t know how they could compete at that level. So it is good to see that they can, whatever the time of the year, with the champions.”

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