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Tyrone left in ruins as Mayo seal All-Ireland final spot

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone 0-13 Mayo 1-16: As they keep reminding us, Mayo don't mind being favourites. This was a massive test of their taste for such titles and after an initial period of discomfort, they swept Tyrone aside to book their place here in the All-Ireland final.

Somehow, this Mayo team seem an awful lot different to previous editions. When they reached the All-Ireland finals of 2004 and 2006 there was a hint of 'happy to be there' before they were set upon by Kerry in both matches.

Last winter they took defeat to Donegal hard. They retreated to the west, got master coach Donie Buckley in to re-calibrate their tackling and offensive lines and they have emerged looking simply awesome.

Just how awesome they actually are, we will not know for another few weeks when they face either Kerry or Dublin in the final.

They won't care who it is. They are just that type of team.

For a while here, we got our wish of seeing what they were like when they had to chase a game.

Tyrone had set themselves in a clever formation and while Joe McMahon reprised his usual role of sweeper, Mayo did not push anyone up on him.

Even the loss of Peter Harte in the first 10 minutes – a victim of a monster hit from Tom Cunniffe that deadened a nerve around his pelvic bone and left him on crutches on the sidelines – wasn't enough to throw them off their stride.

Darren McCurry and Connor McAliskey nicked two points each to add to a Stephen O'Neill score to open up a gap of three points after 13 minutes.

Mayo were bailing water when Alan Freeman wriggled free of Conor Gormley to slot to the net.

Unfortunately for him referee Maurice Deegan had already blown for a 14-yard free that Kevin McLoughlin inexplicably put wide.

It appeared to be one of those days for Tyrone.

Straight after, the westerners might have been boosted by the sight of Stephen O'Neill suffering a re-occurrence of the leg injury that has been dogging him since the league final and being withdrawn on 26 minutes.

The Mayo attack was misfiring – Enda Varley hitting three wides in 17 minutes after being introduced for the injured Cillian O'Connor, but then corner-back Chris Barrett skipped through for two points, sandwiching a Lee Keegan point to leave the minimum in it at half time.

Varley had levelled matters when a collision between Colm Cavanagh and Matthew Donnelly allowed Colm Boyle to dart in on goal. Dermot Carlin impeded his progress and Deegan awarded a penalty.

Pascal McConnell dived to his right but the power of Freeman's spot-kick carried it past him, giving Mayo the lead for the first time, four minutes into the second half.

Mayo pushed up on Tyrone for their kickouts, Cathal Carolan, McLoughlin and Aidan O'Shea beating them every time McConnell opted to go long and they even coughed up a cheap point for the second game in a row when a short kickout did not reach its intended target fast enough for Freeman to convert his own free.

Tyrone had shouts for a penalty when they claimed a foot block, but Mayo moved through the gears and obliterated them with their running game.

Colm Boyle picked up half-a-dozen kickouts to the wing and Tyrone defenders were forced to commit themselves.

In the face of such a running game, the sweeper became redundant.

Mickey Harte tried a few different methods of spicing up the forward line, but shunting Sean Cavanagh to centre-forward when he introduced Aidan Cassidy weakened the midfield.

It was also noticeable how Seamus O'Shea handled Cavanagh, forcing him outside every time he attempted his renowned dummy and shot technique. Colm Cavanagh produced a couple of powerful runs with the clock running down, but Tyrone could not match the energy levels of the Mayo rearguard.

Losing Harte, O'Neill and Joe McMahon left them not only without figureheads, but also their most instinctive on-field reactors to unfolding situations.

With an accumulated yellow card suspension a possibility, Mayo were already calling off the dogs when they brought on Barry Moran for Aidan O'Shea.

Next week we will see a Kerry team who have remodelled themselves on a northern template, against Dublin, the most exciting team left in the competition.

Mayo won't fear either. We know that for sure.

TYRONE: P McConnell; R McKenna, C Clarke, C McCarron; C McGinley (0-1), P Harte, C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-2, 1f); Matthew Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, J McMahon; D McCurry (0-4, 1f), S O'Neill (Capt) (0-1), C McAliskey (0-2). Subs: D Carlin for Harte (seven mins), R O'Neill (0-1) for S O'Neill (29 mins), R McNabb for McMahon (44 mins), A Cassidy (0-1) for Matt Donnelly (48mins), K Coney (0-1) for R O'Neill (58 mins).

Yellow cards: S O'Neill (20 mins), C Cavanagh (55 mins).

MAYO: R Hennelly (0-1, 1f); T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, C Barrett (0-2); L Keegan (0-2), D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O'Shea (0-1), S O'Shea; K McLoughlin (0-1, 1f), K Higgins, A Dillon (0-2); C O'Connor (0-1, 1f), A Freeman (1-4, 1-0pen, 3f), A Moran (Capt). Subs: E Varley (0-1) for O'Connor (11 mins), M Conroy for Moran (56 mins), C Carolan (0-1) for Cunniffe (58 mins), R Feeney for Vaughan (64 mins), B Moran for A O'Shea (68 mins).

Yellow cards: Freeman (16 mins), Keegan (17 mins), Moran (56 mins), Cafferkey (67 mins).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Attendance: 65,345

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