Tyrone flex their muscles to secure top flight status
Ulster champions Tyrone ensured that they will once again be playing in the top flight of the Allianz Football League next season after they turned in a wonderful display in Castlebar yesterday afternoon against All-Ireland finalists Mayo.
It was a contest that the visitors dominated for long spells. They played some superb football with fine second-half goals from Lee Brennan and substitute Conall McCann putting the icing on the cake. Mayo were poor and their afternoon was summed up when Conor Loftus sent a penalty wide deep into injury-time.
Wind-assisted Tyrone led 0-8 to 0-3 after an incident-packed first half that saw referee Maurice Deegan play 10 minutes of injury-time. Mattie Donnelly opened the scoring in the second minute but moments later Mayo levelled through Tom Parsons.
The home side, though, then went 40 minutes without scoring as the Red Hands took control.
Connor McAliskey knocked over a free from the left wing before Niall Sludden and Donnelly (2) both added quality scores from play.
The first talking point of the game arrived in the 19th minute when Colm Boyle took Hugh Pat McGeary out but the referee only brandished a yellow card, McGeary having to leave the field on a stretcher.
Brennan knocked over a free before Frank Burns ventured forward to land a wonderful point from distance. Colm Cavanagh was then black-carded and moments later Mayo were down to 14 men when Boyle picked up a second yellow for a foul on Mark Bradley, Brennan converting the resulting free.
In the 34th minute Tyrone were down to 14 men as well when midfielder Padraig McNulty was red-carded for a challenge on Mayo defender Lee Keegan.
The incidents continued to stack up with Footballer of the Year Andy Moran receiving a black card for impeding the referee. Mayo defender Eoin O'Donoghue then came to his side's rescue with a goal-line clearance to deny substitute Michael McKernan. Mayo ended the half strongly with substitute Conor Loftus converting two close-in frees deep into injury-time.
Mickey Harte's (right) side almost enjoyed a dream start to the second half when Donnelly played the ball to Cathal McShane but he was unlucky to see his shot hit the post.
Loftus opened the second-half scoring from a free but in the fourth minute of the second half Tyrone took a stranglehold on proceedings when McShane offloaded to Brennan, who sold his marker a dummy before blasting to the roof of the net.
Declan McClure added a point from play while McAliskey knocked over two frees as Tyrone turned the screw. Conor Meyler then got forward to take a well-worked point before Donnelly got his fourth of the afternoon, with his weaker left foot.
Loftus pointed for the home side but Brennan responded with the score of the game, a brilliant point with his weaker right foot from an almost impossible angle.
Substitutes Fergal Boland and Neil Douglas had Mayo points but they only served to put a slightly better look on the scoreboard. Tyrone sub McCann put the icing on the cake with an outstanding finish to the top right hand corner of the net that gave keeper David Clarke no chance.
It was an afternoon to forget for Stephen Rochford and it was summed up deep into injury-time when Loftus blazed high and wide after Tom Parsons had been fouled.
Mayo: D Clarke, C Crowe, G Cafferkey, E O'Donoghue, C Boyle, L Keegan, T Parsons (0-1), S Coen, C O'Connor, K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, D O'Connor, J Doherty, A Moran, A Gallagher. Subs: C Loftus (0-5, 4f) for C O'Connor, P Durcan for Keegan, S O'Shea for Moran (black card), F Boland (0-1) for Doherty, N Douglas (0-1) for D O'Connor, C O'Shea for A O'Shea.
Tyrone: M O'Neill, HP McGeary, P Hampsey, C McCarron, C Meyler (0-1), F Burns (0-1), P Harte, C Cavanagh, P McNulty, M Donnelly (0-4), N Sludden (0-1), C McShane, L Brennan (1-3, 2f), C McAliskey (0-3, 3f), M Bradley. Subs: M McKernan for McGeary, D McClure (0-1) for Cavanagh (black card), K McGeary for Sludden, D Mulgrew for Bradley, C McCann (1-0) for McAliskey, R Brennan for McCarron
Referee: M Deegan (Laois ).