Mayo power past Tyrone to claim final spot
Second-half display earns James Horan’s side a return to Croke Park in September
Mayo 1-16 Tyrone 0-13: It took them a while to get motoring and then it was all one-way traffic, Mayo eventually easing their way back into a successive All-Ireland football final and leaving Tyrone trailing in their dust.
In front of massive Mayo support, making up the majority of the 65,345 Croke Park attendance, James Horan’s team out-scored Tyrone 1-10 to six points in the second half, the pace and capacity of their game improving considerably after what had been a very nervous start.
Indeed despite leading by a point at half-time, Tyrone were soon surrendering to Mayo’s unstoppable acceleration in front of goal, and in the end there was no disputing the result.
A penalty deftly converted by Alan Freeman four minutes into the second half proved the turning point, and after that Tyrone were left chasing a game they had at one stage easily controlled.
Enda Varley levelled it up just two minutes into the second half, and then Mayo raced in front after Freeman’s converted penalty, after Colm Boyle was pulled down, although evidently just outside the area.
Yet that simply sparked a thorough onslaught of scores from Mayo, Freeman adding from play and placed balls, with goalkeeper Rob Hennelly also coming up for a long-range free – and with that Mayo pulled six points clear, 1-10 to 0-7.
Three points kept Tyrone in touch, including a free for Seán Cavanagh, but their wides mounted too, Mayo’s confidence visibly growing all the time.
Cathal Carolan, Aidan O’Shea, Alan Dillon and Varley all added to the tally to ensure there was second half coming for Tyrone, who huddled together after the final whistle realising their challenge on the day simply wasn’t good enough.
All this contrasted with the first half, when it looked like Mickey Harte – in what was 200th game in charge of Tyrone – might have worked wonders once again, as his team lorded Mayo in every sector, forcing them to go the first 32 minutes without scoring from play (and only three frees instead).
As anticipated there were several fascinating showdowns, especially at midfield – between two sets of brothers: Mayo’s Aidan and Seamus O’Shea, and Tyrone’s Seán and Colm Cavanagh, although the Tyrone duo certainly starting the better.
In fact Tyrone opened with far greater pace and confidence, Ciaran McGinley bursting forward from wing back for the opening score after three minutes before Cillian O’Connor’s opening free levelled it. Space was more abundant than expected, with Tyrone seizing more of it: Conor McAliskey hit two excellent points from play, with Stephen O’Neill popping up for another, to build a 0-5 to 0-2 lead.
Both teams lost key players to injury in the first half: Tyrone’s Peter Harte hurt himself in a heavy tackle, followed by Mayo’s O’Connor after 11 minutes, nursing the same shoulder injury which sidelined him earlier in the year. Then, on 26 minutes, Stephen O’Neill limped off for Tyrone, after hurting his ankle.
The momentum for the opening half hour was firmly with Tyrone, with Mayo’s suffering nervously in front of goal – not helped by controversy in the 25th minute with Freeman’s goal was disallowed, referee Maurice Deegan insisting he had blown for a free. Worse again, Kevin McLoughlin somehow missed the close-range free.
Eventually, however, Mayo got to grip with the game. After a 10-minute scoring void for both teams, Mayo got their first from play, through defender Chris Barrett and swiftly followed that with two, another for Barrett and fellow defender Lee Keegan.
So, although still trailing at the break, at least Mayo had closed it up to the minimum with Tyrone in front 0-7 to 0-6. That thus set up the intriguing second half climax, with Mayo quickly finding form, and holding nerve, to book their place in the All-Ireland final on September 22nd – with Dublin and Kerry doing battle back here next Sunday to decide who will join them.
MAYO: R Hennelly (0-1, a free); 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, a free), K Higgins, A Dillon (0-2); C O’Connor (0-1, a free), A Freeman (1-4, one penalty, three frees), A Moran. Subs: E Varley (0-1) for O’Connor (11 mins, inj), 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).
TYRONE: P McConnell; R McKenna, C Clarke, C McCarron; C McGinley (0-1), P Harte, C Gormley; S Cavanagh (0-2, one free), C Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, J McMahon; D McCurry (0-4, two frees), S O’Neill (0-1), C McAliskey (0-1). Subs: D Carlin for Harte (6 mins, inj), R O’Neill (0-1) for O’Neill (26 mins, inj), R McNabb for McMahon (44 mins), A Cassidy (0-1) for Matthew Donnelly (48 mins), K Coney (0-1) for R O’Neill (58 mins)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)