Tyrone are into their stride: Red hands brimming with confidence after showing their depth of quality
Tyrone 2-15 Mayo 0-15
Published 10/02/2014 | 08:30
Tyrone's sprightly renaissance, so pronounced since the start of the year, assumed added significance when Mayo, with frustration by now etched into their DNA after six abortive All-Ireland final appearances since the mid-90's, endured yet another mishap at Healy Park, Omagh.
If the final scoreline brought considerable satisfaction to Red Hands boss Mickey Harte, then the manner in which it was achieved had him positively glowing with optimism.
It may be early days with the limbering up process still in vogue yet Tyrone already portray a level of confidence and exhibit a depth of talent that suggest a lucrative summer could be in prospect.
For now, though, Harte prefers to dwell on a battalion of young guns whose finishing is nothing short of sublime, the gradual infusion of more seasoned warriors and a frenetic overall work rate.
"I thought that the economy of our finishing against what was an under-strength Mayo was crucial – we have to keep a sense of perspective," said Hart.
"We were very good in the first-half when we got 10 scores from 13 chances but maybe we were not as sharp after the break. Darren McCurry's (pictured) goal then allowed us to breathe more easily and we went on to win."
"It was good to see Sean Cavanagh coming back to get more game time while his brother Colm also did trojan work for us. We now have three points and we will go to Kildare when the league resumes hoping to get a win which might ensure our tenure in Division One."
A match may be of 70 minutes duration but it was what happened in a blistering spell between the 15th and 20th minutes that ultimately decided the outcome. And if ever a team was made to pay for its profligacy then it was Mayo.
Within the opening nine minutes, James Horan's side spurned three gilt-edged goal chances, failed to convert two frees and posted a wide when it looked easier to score.
But as if to indicate that they had lost patience with Mayo's woeful inadequacy in the finishing stakes, Tyrone promptly served up a brief but deadly master class in the art of putting scores on the board.
With Mattie Donnelly not so much growing into his full-forward role as positively revelling in it, he cemented the belief that he will enjoy a lengthy sojourn in the No 14 shirt by whipping over points in the 15th and 16th minutes which were smartly complemented by similar scores from the marauding Peter Harte and the clinical Darren McCurry.
It was McCurry, indeed, who provided more than a hint of just where the league points were going when he roared through the middle in the 20th minute to snap up Harte's deft pass and drill the ball past helpless Mayo goalkeeper Robert Hennelly.
Such was Donnelly's influence up front that Kevin Keane, Colm Boyle and Ger Cafferkey were tasked with policing him in shifts throughout the first-half yet he actually blossomed.
Even when Adam Gallagher, Kevin McLoughlin and Lee Keegan stole in to share in a Mayo triple points blitz spanning the 21st and 23rd minutes, Tyrone responded with interest, McCurry from a free and then the mercurial Donnelly easing their side into a more comfortable 1-8 to 0-6 lead.
Gallagher pilfered another score for the visitors but it was Donnelly who adorned his own impeccable first-half performance by landing his fifth point to leave Tyrone in front by 1-9 to 0-6 at the break.
Yet surrender was never on the agenda for Mayo. With Adam Gallagher the essence of accuracy from frees and play, Aidan O'Shea and Jason Gibbons toiling diligently at midfield and the team as a whole placing a greater emphasis on spreading the play, Mayo had reduced the deficit to just two points by the 50th minute (1-11 to 0-12) with Gallagher influencing their revival.
But it was to be a case of thus far and no further.
Ciaran McGinley and Niall Morgan rifled over a brace of points, Ronan O'Neill tacked on another and then the superb McCurry provided the icing on the cake when he deftly swept home Tyrone's second goal. From then until the end, it was a matter of going through the motions for Tyrone, Mayo's challenge and spirit having effectively been crushed.
For Tyrone, the drive to gain compensation for last year's one-point defeat by Dublin in the league final looks certain to gain momentum when the action resumes next month.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1f); A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney; C McGinley (0-2), P Harte (0-1), T McCann; C Cavanagh, C Grugan; E McKenna, S McGuigan, P Hughes; D McCurry (2-4, 0-1 f)), M Donnelly (0-5), R O'Neill (0-1f). Subs; C McAliskey (0-1) for Hughes (half-time),M Donnelly for McGuigan (50 mins), S Cavanagh for McKenna (50), D Carlin for Tierney (58), P McNeice for McCurry (70). Yellow cards: Tierney (47 mins).
Mayo: R Hennelly; K Keane, G Cafferkey, C Boyle; L Keegan (0-1), S McHale, D Drake, ; A O'Shea, J Gibbons; C Carolan (0-1), K Higgins (0-1), A Gallagher 0-9 (0-5 frees), K McLaughlin (0-2), A Moran (0-1), D O'Connor. Subs: M Conroy for O'Connor, D Coen for Keane, B Gallagher for Carolan, B Harrison for Boyle (all half-time), J Doherty for Cafferkey (58), A Freeman for Keegan (65).
Yellow cards: O'Connor (33 mins), O Shea (48), Higgins (60).
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh).