Tyrone 0-11 Mayo 0-9
Tyrone’s Division One survival is in their own hands after they chiselled two crucial points out of a tense Healy Park clash with Mayo on Saturday evening.
With their backs to the wall after just one win from five league games, the struggling hosts came out battling and produced the levels of intensity and doggedness that’s demanded against Mayo.
A repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final, the Sam Maguire holders once again denied the Westerners, whose bid for a place in the league final has faltered following two straight losses.
Tyrone were three up inside the opening five minutes. With the wind at their backs, they committed runners from deep in a high-energy approach, with Frank Burns, Peter Harte and Conor Meyler all sending over early points.
They pressed up on the kick-outs of replacement goalkeeper Rory Byrne to keep the pressure on a Mayo side that struggled to get into its stride. While Mayo’s strong running game was stifled by a well organised Tyrone rearguard, with Brian Kennedy forcing a couple of turnovers to further frustrate the visitors.
Darragh Canavan landed a mark and Rory Brennan sliced over another as the All-Ireland champions made it 0-5 to no score, and it wasn’t until the 24th minute that Ryan O’Donoghue finally got the Connacht men off the mark with a converted free.
Oisin Mullin and Mattie Ruane began to make some ground as they ran at the Tyrone men, but they managed just one point from play in the opening half, sent over by Jordan Flynn.
But Mayo still looked secure in defence, until the closing stages of the half when Harte began to probe again, finding pockets of space from which he shot two points. Tyrone went in with a 0-8 to 0-3 interval lead.
Mattie Donnelly came off the bench to extend the advantage to six, but with the wind now with them, James Horan’s men began to move with purpose and urgency.
Aidan O’Shea provided the platform at the heart of their defence, and midfielders Flynn and Ruane imposed themselves on the central battle.
The latter fired over a long range score, as did O’Donoghue, as they launched attacks from deep off a disciplined defensive set-up. Mayo succeeded in closing down Tyrone’s offensive threat, despite the constant probings of Canavan and Harte, and displayed typical grit in chasing down scores to narrow the gap.
Substitute Jack Carney squeezed over a delightful effort from a tight angle, and as they pressed the Tyrone kick-out, the home defence came under increasing pressure.
O’Donoghue tapped over a 49th minute free to leave just a point between the sides, and at this stage, it looked to be Mayo’s game.
But Tyrone drew on all their experience to close down the channels, and conceded just one point in the closing 20 minutes, another O’Donoghue free.
Richie Donnelly’s pass released Canavan for a stoppage time point that proved to be the insurance score. Mayo did however have a half-chance for a goal late, but substitute Carney pulled his shot wide.
Tyrone: N Morgan; M McKernan, R McNamee, F Burns (0-1); C Meyler (0-2), R Brennan (0-1), P Harte (0-3); C Kilpatrick, B Kennedy; P Hampsey, N Sludden, K McGeary; D McCurry (0-1), C McShane, D Canavan (0-2, 0-1 mark).
Subs: R Donnelly for Kennedy and M Donnelly (0-1) for McShane (both h-t), N Donnelly for Sludden (55 mins), L Rafferty for Brennan (61 mins), B McDonnell for Canavan (71 mins).
Mayo: R Byrne; L Keegan, D McBrien, D McHugh; O Mullan, A O'Shea, S Coen; J Flynn (0-2), M Ruane (0-1); F McDonagh, P Towey, F Boland; A Orme, J Doherty, R O'Donoghue (0-5, 0-4 frees).
Subs: J Carney (0-1) for McDonagh (36 mins), K McLoughlin for Towey and E Hession for McHugh (both h-t), D Coen for Doherty (52 mins), C Loftus for Boland (67 mins).
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).