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Rattled Red Hands are floored by Mayo magic

Tyrone 0-10 Mayo 2-13

Pressure on: Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor is closed down by Kyle Coney and Kieran McGeary
Pressure on: Mayo’s Diarmuid O’Connor is closed down by Kyle Coney and Kieran McGeary
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

By the time of the second goal, the game was long over as a contest. Mayo had come to Omagh and bullied Tyrone around their own patch and while there were several intangibles lacking with the Red Hands, Mayo certainly looked to have rediscovered their old snarl that they had once upon a time in James Horan's first spell as manager.

Debutant Fionn McDonagh capped a brilliant first full league start when he was found in acres of space deep in Tyrone territory. He soloed in for a closer look at Niall Morgan's goal and, eschewing the easy point, slammed his shot low to put Mayo up by nine points, 1-12 to 0-6 with twenty torturous minutes left for the home fans.

Soon after, substitute Kyle Coney was mown down. A bit of verbals with Lee Keegan resulted in the Westport man ripping Coney's shirt open to the navel. If this is how ruthless they are in early February, then things will be more interesting come summer.

At the most base level, Tyrone could not match their guests for any quality. It was one of their oddly off-colour performances that they occasionally deliver in front of their Healy Park fans. They haven't beaten Mayo here since 2014 when Darren McCurry personally notched 2-4.

McCurry was a frustrated figure here, isolated in attack and on the odd occasion the ball was delivered long to himself, Peter Harte and Lee Brennan on the inside line, they found they had absolutely no support runners helping out.

Two defeats from two, with just 0-17 scored in those games, and already next weekend's trip to a resurgent Roscommon - who defeated Monaghan - is a must-win affair.

"We're not looking for excuses," said Tyrone manager Mickey Harte afterwards.

"We were beaten by a better team today, we were beaten by a better team last week and that's the level we want to compete at. We need to do something about it ourselves, we need to be better ourselves the next day and the day after that and the day after that, and if we're not we'll find ourselves out of this division.

"We're fortunate at this moment in time that there are still five chances to get some points but chances run out very fast. Every game that goes by it becomes harder to ensure that you're going to stay in this division and we have no other ambition at this moment other than to stay in the division.

"If we manage that we'll believe that the latter part of the league will be good for us."

His opposite number James Horan reserved some lavish praise for Mayo's sweeper Keith Higgins who joined the attack on countless occasions and punished Tyrone's inability to get to grips with him by crashing a shot to the net late in the first half.

"Well, Keith is just a special type of guy, everyone knows that at this stage," said Horan.

"He got up there and got a goal, giving us momentum just when Tyrone were at us a little bit.

"And Andy (Moran) was just relentless in his movement - he kept two Tyrone guys busy in there. He mightn't have got much ball but the work he did in there was phenomenal.

"I'm delighted with that and a few things that we are working on, trying to add to our performance, they were very evident today."

Mayo came up and stayed the night in the Lough Erne Resort outside Enniskillen on Saturday.

They already have over 20 sessions in the bank according to Horan and whether that makes them fit or simply fresh, nobody can say for sure.

But they are as promising right now, as Tyrone are despondent. Much improvement is drastically needed.

TYRONE: N Morgan 0-1; M McKernan, R McNamee, HP McGeary; T McCann, R Brennan, P Harte 0-3, 1f; B Kennedy, D McClure; M Donnelly 0-1f, N Sludden, K McGeary; D McCurry 0-2, 1f, 1m, F Burns, L Brennan 0-2, 1m

Subs: C Grugan 0-1, for McClure (HT), P Hampsey for HP McGeary (HT), K Coney for Burns (40m), C McCann for McCurry (43m), C Meyler for K McGeary (53m)

Yellow cards: K McGeary (16m), Kennedy (44m)

Black cards: McKernan (62m)

Red cards: 0

MAYO: R Hennelly 0-2, 1x'45', 1f; S Coen, B Harrison, K Higgins 1-0; M Plunkett, L Keegan, P Durcan 0-1; D O'Connor, D Vaughan; F McDonagh 1-3, A O'Shea, C Tracey 0-1; A Moran 0-2, 1m, B Reape 0-1, J Doherty 0-3, 1f

Subs: C Diskin for Reape (49m), J McCormack for Keegan (61m), K McLoughlin for Moran (67m), D Drake for Coen (70m), M Ruane for Tracey (72m)

Yellow cards: Plunkett (1m)

Black cards: 0

Red cards: 0

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

Attendance: 6,648.

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