Home defeat for wasteful Red Hands

Thursday, 30 March 2017

A SECOND successive defeat has derailed Tyrone's march to the National Football League final.

Tyrone ...0-12
Mayo ...1-10

They can still make it to the decider, but need a contribution of positive results from next weekend's final round of Division One games.

And the Red Hands must beat Kerry in Killarney to have any chance of challenging for the title.

That's the disappointing outcome from a narrow one point loss to Mayo at Healy Park, their first defeat at the Omagh venue in two years.

A Tom Parsons goal just before half-time gave the Connacht men a vital edge, and it turned out to be the score that separated the sides at the end.

Peter Harte felt the goal, combined with Tyrone's 15 wides, combined to seal Tyrone's fate.

“It was probably the difference in the teams, I'm not too sure what the stats were, but when you're missing 15, it's very hard to win any game, and it proved today," he said.

“We probably didn't make enough of the wind in the first half. I think we went in a point down, after conceding a goal, which was disappointing, and probably gave them the impetus in the second half to see it out and get their scores that wee bit easier."

“It was probably our best spell in the game in terms of scoring, but Mayo are one of the best sides in the country, and they have been vying for that spot this last five years.

“And when they got us on the counter-attack then a couple of times, they make you pay, as it showed with the goal, and with the point towards the end."

But Harte is relieved that the Red Hands still have a chance of making it to the league final.

“If there's one positive to come out of it, you're still in with a chance," said Harte.

“But that's Division One football, it's why every team wants to be here, because you get games against the top sides, like Mayo, like Kerry next week, like Donegal last week, and you have to be performing.

“And last week when we didn't perform, we got well beaten. Today our performance level was probably a bit better, but just not enough to get us the win and the points that we needed.

“Last year we saw the benefit of getting on a run of winning games, I know it was Division Two, but you can't beat winning, especially in Division One, when you're playing the top teams.

“We'll be going down to Kerry with a fighting chance of making the league final, and that has to be our target now, and hopefully putting in a better performance, putting more scores on the board.

“To get a run out in Croke Park, to get an extra competitive game , there's lots of benefits that come with it, because there is that big break before we play Derry.

“But all we can do is concentrate on next week on playing Kerry, which is a tough task. I don't think we have won down there in a while."

They were level on eight occasions, before the visitors reached out for the vital score right at the death.

Mark Bradley gave Tyrone the lead after five minutes, after Patrick Durcan and Darren McCurry had traded early points.

With Mattie Donnelly restored to his favourite midfield position following a brief experiment as an inside forward, the Red Hands pressed forward with pace from deep, but their finishing was poor, and they were to finish the first half with eight wides.

 Mayo stepped up the tempo, and a brilliant Shane Nally point was followed by a Kevin McLoughlin score.

Niall Sludden responded with a fine Tyrone point, but moments later was sent off on a black card for a challenge on Lee Keegan.

Keegan himself also received a black card for hauling down Kieran McGeary ten minutes later, with Sean Cavanagh edging the hoem side two points clear from the resultant free.

But in the 28th minute, Mayo crafted a superb goal. Cillian O'Connor's inch-perfect pass found Andy Moran, who spotted Tom Parsons' run, and the midfielder beat Niall Morgan with a low finish.

Mark Bradley and Cavanagh responded with eye-catchign points, but it was Mayo who led by 1-6 to 0-8 at the break

And while the westerners were under pressure for much of the second half, they defended solidly and prospered on David Clarke's short kick-outs.

Tyrone missed a host of chances, finishing with 15 wides to Mayo's six, and paid the price.

At the end of the third quarter, Tiernan McCann sprinted through to give them a narrow lead, but O'Connor was finding the range from placed balls, and his five points were decisive.

The final 15 minutes were tense and intense, with both sides determined to avoid defeat.

However, Mayo had enough ambition to go for it right at the death, and McLoughlin seized his opportunity and finished with confidence and style to snatch what was probably their most important result of the current campaign.

Tyrone scorers: Mark Bradley 0-3, S Cavanagh 0-2 (1 free), Darren McCurry, Kieran McGeary 0-2 each, Niall Sludden, Tiernan McCann, Niall Morgan (free) 0-1 each.

Mayo scorers: Tom Parsons 1-0, Cillian O'Connor 0-5 (3 frees, 1 '45), Kevin McLoughlin, Patrick Durcan 0-2 each, Shane Nally 0-1.

Tyrone: Niall Morgan; Padraig Hampsey, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Ronan McNabb, Aidan McCrory, Tiernan McCann; Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Kieran McGeary, Niall Sludden, Peter Harte; Mark Bradley, Sean Cavanagh, Darren McCurry.

Subs: Conor Meyler for Sludden (BC), Cathal McShane for McNamee, Harry Loughran for McNabb, Johnny Munroe for McCrory.

Mayo: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins, Chris Barrett; Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Patrick Durcan; Tom Parsons, Danny Kirby; Fergal Boland, Cillian O'Connor, Shane Nally, Kevin McLoughlin, Andy Moran, David Drake.

Subs: Stephen Coen for Higgins (BC), Diarmuid O'Connor for Boland, Donal Vaughan for Kirby (BC), Aidan O'Shea for Moran, Jason Doherty for Drake, Conor O'Shea for Nally.

 Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).


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