Improving Mayo claim a notable scalp
Mayo 1-12 Tyrone 1-11:THERE'S SOMETHING about Mayo. This was a very different type of victory to the cavalier show last week against neighbours Galway, but escaping from Healy Park with a one-point victory is nothing to be scoffed at.
A string of six unanswered points between the 40th and 58th minutes set them up and, although Tyrone came back into it in a feisty last 10 minutes, this was a substantial scalp for the Mayo men.
Their day was lighted by a stunning individual display from Mark Ronaldson, whose haul of 1-6 was vital in a match when just one other starting forward - Andy Moran - would score from play. Mayo's full-back line was excellent once again and the midfield pairing of Tom Parsons and Ronan McGarrity forced Tyrone to look elsewhere for their kickouts.
They came preciously close to blowing a four-point lead over the last 10 minutes but the most striking aspect of Mayo's performance was their willingness to play for each other.
With senior men like Alan Dillon and Trevor Mortimer available to them soon, competition for places will be tight.
It was a frustrating week for Tyrone. Mickey Harte was forced to omit Justin McMahon, Conor Gormley and Martin Penrose following suspensions arising from the defeat to Derry. Harte had no qualms with the suspensions but afterwards made the point that using television footage to highlight incidents should either be done uniformly or not at all.
"If that game had not been televised, then our three players would not have been suspended. I have no problem with that method being used but if that is the road they want to go down, then there should be cameras at all games. Otherwise, teams are at a disadvantage if their game is televised.
"But this shouldn't overshadow a good game of football here. I was very happy with the commitment and effort that our players showed and, but for our own errors, we could have won the game."
Tyrone had patches when they hit their A game but they are not a team suited to these soft, dreary February days. For three minutes after half-time, they seemed to switch into a different gear and reeled off three fine points.
And in the first half the Tyrone goal was a reminder of the quality that has placed Brian McGuigan at least among the very elite of the last decade. The Ardboe man's contribution to the 15th-minute goal was a master class in vision and economy of movement.
He ghosted away as soon as Trevor Howley moved to challenge Aidan Cassidy and upon receiving the ball, he was looking for the lethal pass. He spied Eoin McCusker moving behind the Mayo rearguard and instantly sent in the perfect handpass for the young forward to score.
And Tyrone needed that goal because it was the Mayo attack that caught the eye in the first half. Andy Moran transferred the rampant form he showed against Galway and brought it right into Ryan McMenamin's patch of turf, causing a constant headache for the Dromore man.
Once again, Mayo elected to place big Aidan O'Shea around midfield and Ronaldson profited in a lively Mayo front line, hitting 1-4 in the first half, the goal coming from a well-struck penalty.
The westerners attacked from deep, with Donal Vaughan and the excellent Keith Higgins venturing forward when given the chance.
Kevin McLoughlin tested Pascal McConnell on 16 minutes with a thumping short from 20 yards. The veteran goalkeeper got a paw to the ball but could not prevent the point.
There were encouraging flashes of a reimagined Mayo attacking game, with Ronaldson's 25th-minute point the pick of the bunch. It was 1-6 to 1-5 in Mayo's favour at the half.
Mayo should have had a bigger cushion and Tyrone's businesslike start left the visitors trailing by two points. But Mayo went to work and steadily worked their way to higher ground - two well-taken frees from Enda Varley, a fine point from Parsons after Ronan McGarrity soared to cut out a Tyrone pass, a neat Andy Moran point and two terrific scores from Ronaldson shaking the home team.
Mayo played out the last minutes in cautious mode and Tyrone's Joe McMahon was red-carded during a brief flare-up.Tyrone might have had a draw but it was apt that Keith Higgins secured vital possession and ultimately the victory for the visitors.
TYRONE: P McConnell; R McNabb, Joe McMahon, D Carlin; D Harte, S O'Neill, R McMenamin; A Cassidy (0-2), K Hughes (0-1); E McGinley, B McGuigan, C Cavanagh (0-1); K Coney (0-1 free), E McCusker (1-1), T McGuigan (0-3, 1 free). Subs: P Harte (0-1 free) for B McGuigan (53 mins), C McCullagh (0-1 free) for K Coney (53 mins), M Swift for R McNabb (63 mins).
MAYO: D Clarke; D Vaughan, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; P Gardiner, T Howley, K McLoughlin (0-1); T Parsons (0-1), R McGarrity; A Moran (0-2), S O'Shea, A Freeman; E Varley (0-2 frees), A O'Shea, M Ronaldson (1-6, pen, two frees). Subs: B Kelly for A O'Shea (41 mins), K Conroy for S O'Shea (48 mins), N Douglas for K McLoughlin (53 mins), M Sweeney for A Freeman (65 mins)
Referee: J White (Donegal).