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All-Ireland Championship: Tyrone building up head of steam

By Damian Mellon

Tyrone 3-19 Roscommon 1-14: Tyrone are once again gathering momentum through the backdoor and next weekend they will go head to head with Dublin for the right to meet Donegal in the All Ireland semi final.

On Saturday at Croke Park they ended Roscommon’s championship hopes but it was only in the second half that they managed to pull away from gallant opponents.

Red Hands’ defender Ryan McMenamin acknowledged that their winning margin of eleven points flattered them and he paid tribute to Roscommon.

“To be fair to Roscommon they played all the football in the first half and they played the football that we wanted to play, quick football,” said McMenamin.

“We were struggling and we were lucky that big Sean [Cavanagh] popped up with that brilliant goal to keep us in the game.

“In the first ten minutes of the second half we really went at them and went five points up but again they fought back and it took those two late goals to put a flattering look on the scoreboard.

“I would say that we were four or five points a better side on the day, certainly not eleven.

“When the draw was made and you saw Dublin it was kind of hard maybe to think about Roscommon but we tried our best.

“Everyone that you were talking to during the week, the first thing they mentioned was Dublin and they were saying that we would beat Roscommon but we gave them respect and they showed there that they are a quality side.”

The sides shared the opening dozen points with attacking duo Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine prominent for Roscommon in the scoring stakes with Kyle Coney and Sean Cavanagh contributing a brace each for Tyrone.

Kilbride then put his side in front and in the 27th minute they were in dreamland when midfielder Karol Mannion rocketed the ball to the net after Red Hands keeper Pascal McConnell failed to get adequate length with his punched clearance.

Instead of giving Roscommon a boost it had the opposite affect as Tyrone were shocked into responding and they did it in style. Peter Harte’s pass inside sent Cavanagh storming through the middle and the 2008 footballer of the year made no mistake with a low drive to the Roscommon net. Colm

Cavanagh then fisted a point before older brother Sean scored again as Tyrone led 1-9 to 1-8 at half time.

Roscommon may have equalised in the first attack of the second half through Mannion but it was clear that Tyrone had lifted their game a notch or two and they began to make it count on the scoreboard.

Brian McGuigan, Mark Donnelly, Harte and sublime efforts from defenders Philip Jordan and Sean O’Neill had the Ulster men five clear by the tenth minute. Roscommon were rattled but they responded to close the deficit to two with Darren McDermott and Kilbride on target.

The scene was set for a storming final quarter but that’s when Tyrone showed their experience and know how to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents.

Colm Cavanagh surged through three or four tackles to fist the ball over the bar before Conor Gormley joined the attack to score and leave five between the sides once more.

There was no way that Tyrone were going to lose their vice like grip on proceedings now with Sean Cavanagh unlucky to see his shot hit the post when he was through for a score.

The same player though got his second goal two minutes from time when he again galloped clear of the Roscommon defence before finishing in style.

Roscommon were now holding a beaten docket and Tyrone showed their class in the final minute of normal time when a flowing move ended with Harte once again providing an assist this time for Donnelly to find the bottom left hand corner of the net as Mickey Harte’s charges won with plenty to spare.

Tyrone: P McConnell, M Swift, Joe McMahon, R McMenamin, Sean O’Neill [0-1], C Gormley [0-1], P Jordan [0-1], K Hughes [0-1], S Cavanagh [2-3], C Cavanagh [0-2], B McGuigan [0-2], P Harte [0-4], T McGuigan, M Donnelly [1-1], K Coney [0-2]. Subs: O Mulligan [0-1] for Coney, B Dooher for T McGuigan, Justin McMahon for McMenamin, C McCarron for Swift, D Harte for McCarron, E McGinley for S Cavanagh [temporary blood]

Roscommon: G Claffey, S McDermott, N Carty, S Purcell, D Keenan, P Domican, D Ward, M Finneran, K Mannion [1-2], S O’Grady, K Higgins, C Cregg [0-1], D McDermott [0-2], S Kilbride [0-4], D Shine [0-4]. Subs: C Devaney for Ward, J Rogers [0-1] for McDermott, D O’Gara for Higgins, N Daly for O’Grady, E Kenny for Finneran

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).

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