Sports

Tasty Tyrone display disposes of Mayo and guarantees survival.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Tyrone will play Division One football again next year, thanks to a resounding win at McHale Park which removed the threat of relegation with a game to spare.

Mayo...0-8
Tyrone...2-14

Second half goals from Lee Brennan and Conall McCann sent a dominant Red Hand side coasting to a 12 points success, their third in the last three visits to the Castlebar venue.

The Ulster champions imposed themselves on the contest from start to finish, with skipper Mattie Donnelly leading the way with an inspirational display.

Manager Mickey Harte was delighted to see his team maintain the high tempo that they set right from the first throw-in.

"That is the work of the collective unit. The players were determined at half-time not to give up on the work that had got us in a good position to be five points up," he said.

"What was going to keep us in that position was to work as hard again and try and keep that gap. Even if Mayo reduced it as long as we were able to pick off one or two we were always going to keep them chasing the game.

"It's not often we are in that position. It's usually us doing the chasing this season in games in the league. Today we were on the front foot from the off and stayed there until the end."


Despite the loss of black-carded Colm Cavanagh and the injured Hugh Pat McGeary, Tyrone never lost their defensive discipline, and Mayo were unable to build any momentum on what was a frustrating day for the beaten All-Ireland finalists.

"Even in the first half, we were playing with the breeze yes. Obviously we had a couple of set-backs with Colm getting the black card and then Hugh Pat suffered a pretty hard tackle for which there wasn't much given.

"Then Paudie (McNulty) got a red card when we just went for the ball and didn't go to hurt anyone.

It was a tough challenge and the other boy got to it first. I hate to see anyone get injured but the red was harsh on Paudie.

"They lost a number of key players as well but at half-time we were a bit disappointed. We were leading 8-1 but then they came back to 8-3 which gave them a lifeline.

"But then that goal at the start of the second half by Lee Brennan really gave us a foothold in the game which we never let up on afterwards. Al in all yes it was as god a performance as we have had in many years."


Brennan's goal was a piece of individual magic, crafted and finished with aplomb, and there was a second spectacular strike late on from substitute Conall McCann.

"It was a classic turnover score," said Harte. "We got the ball at the back and we worked it forward with control and patience. At the right moment we gave the right pass and the right man struck it.


It was a really nice score. We don't always get those but we have to enjoy what happened today." Tyrone were always in command as they crushed Mayo in front of their own fans to ensure their survival in Division One, and placing the westerner's top flight status in peril.

Mayo have been a top tier side for two decades, but they must get a point in Donegal next weekend to avoid relegation to Division Two.

The Red Hands dominated from start to finish, and the loss of four key players didn't help Mayo's cause, as injuries and dismissals during an incident-packed opening half severely depleted their resources.

And playing into a stiff breeze, the Ulster champions won the second half handsomely by 2-6 to 0-5, after taking a five points lead into the interval.

Among several unwelcome statistics, Mayo's starting fifteen managed just one point in the entire game.

In front of a crowd of 10,013, Peter Harte sent Mattie Donnelly through for the opening score, but Tom Parsons had the home side level immediately.

Colm Cavanagh was perfectly placed on his own D to cut out a Diarmuid O'Connor cross, and got himself forward to win the free from which Connor McAliskey eased the Red Hands back in front.

Parsons worked hard around midfield to get the Connacht men going, with Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin also probing for openings, but Tyrone's fortified defence held firm.

And the home side suffered a blow when Cillian O'Connor was forced out of the game by injury after just 11 minutes.

Tyrone raided at pace from deep to reel off a volley of scores, with Donnelly hitting his third, a superb long range effort, as they moved into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

Hugh Pat McGeary's impressive defensive contribution was brought to an end when he was stretchered off on 19 minutes following a challenge that earned Colm Boyle a booking, Mayo were down to 14 men on the half-hour when Boyle picked up a second yellow for a challenge on Mark Bradley.

Tyrone also went a man down three minutes later, midfielder Padraig McNulty received a straight red for a reckless challenge which ended Lee Keegan's involvement in the game.

And Mayo lost yet another key man when Andy Moran was black-carded for an aggressive approach to referee Maurice Deegan as he challenged a decision.

Mayo rallied late in the half for Conor Loftus to slot over two frees, but they trailed by 0-8 to 0-3 at the break.

With big name players O'Connor, Keegan, Moran and Boyle all out of the picture, the westerners faced a massive task, but they did have the biting wind in their backs as the second half got under way.

It was Tyrone who got in for a goal chance when Donnelly made a driving run through the heart of the opposition defence, but Cathal McShane's shot shaved the wrong side of a post.

And the Red Hands struck a major blow four minutes into iteh half, when Brennan side-stepped Ger Cafferkey to smash the ball to the roof of the net.

Declan McClure and Connor McAliskey tagged on points to push the lead out to ten, and Stephen Rochford and his men were in deep trouble.

They had fallen 12 points behind by the time substitute Fergal Boland ended a 23-minute scoreless spell, but Tyrone had another remphatdic response, with Conor Meyler and McShane making the running for substitute Conall McCann to smash a shot to the roof of David Clarke's net, sealing and emphatic win.

To add to Mayo's woes, Loftus sent a penalty wide deep into stoppage time.

Tyrone - Mickey O'Neill; Hugh Pat McGeary, Padraig Hampsey, Cathal McCarron; Conor Meyler (0-1), Frank Burns (0-1), Peter Harte, Colm Cavanagh, Padraig McNulty; Mattie Donnelly (0-4), Niall Sludden (0-1), Cathal McShane; Lee Brennan (1-3), Connor McAliskey (0-3), Mark Bradley.

Subs - Michael McKernan for McGeary, Declan McClure (0-1) for Cavanagh (BC), Kieran McGeary for Sludden, David Mulgrew for Bradley, Conall McCann (1-0) for McAliskey, Rory Brennan for McCarron.

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