Tyrone too strong for Roscommon in Super 8s opener
Ulster side now face Cork next weekend knowing they can book a semi-final spot
Michael McKernan gathers for Tyrone. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Roscommon 0-13 Tyrone 0-17
It began with a bang – get ready for a lot more of the big ball. The Super-8s are in town. Well, it was briefly a bang, until Tyrone romped home with relative ease, leaving Roscommon to ponder the prospect of preparing for perhaps a season-saving date with the All-Ireland champions. Up next is Dublin.
Two sublime points in succession for Roscommon at the beginning of the second half felt like a game-changing period, Diarmuid Murtagh’s effort was beautifully curled over from near the side-line while Shane Killoran’s off-balance kick had subsequently tied the game. The roars greeting the midfielder’s points were as expected. Rousing. They love their football in these parts these days.
But it only delayed the inevitable, beginning a period of Tyrone dominance that saw the Ulster men produce five without reply. From there, Anthony Cunningham’s men began to awake from their dreams, though Peter Harte could easily have turned the day into a nightmare had his thundering thump not rattled the crossbar.
It was enough to see Roscommon panic for the first time this summer.
They were being out-witted as well as out-played, a scenario which was highlighted by Mattie Donnelly’s score midway through the second half when only moments earlier he appeared to have been moving gingerly.
Conor Cox, so often the man Roscommon had turned to for inspiration, had gone to the well only to come back relatively empty-handed by his standards. A rare off-day it was. Cunningham took action, replacing the Kerry import with Andrew Glennon and the Michael Glaveys man almost produced the goods when getting a hand to a long ball in. He had to make do with a point.
And though we’re only a third of the way there, it already feels like Tyrone have a foot in the semi-finals while the Dublin jersey in the distance says all that needs to be said of Roscommon’s prospects for the rest of the season.
That realisation, all the same, was late dawning, the home outfit only two points off their visitors at the break, 0-8 to 0-6.
With the stadium tinged with a boisterous West of Ireland energy, Tyrone understood the need for a momentum-generating start, bombing forward to score a brace through Brian Kennedy and Frank Burns. It was essential. They knew what was coming, with the terraces and stand jammed with the primrose and blue.
And it duly came.
Niall Daly crept up his wing opposite the stand, collected the ball, then himself, and slotted over. Cue what could only be described as a rapture, the echoes of hollering and enthusiasm reverating off every surface available from as far out as Athleague. Cunningham’s outfit had arrived into the last-eight.
But Tyrone, never a team to be intimidated by the volume of opposition, weren’t found lacking for confidence, opting for their trusted 14-1 formation and leaving the strapping Cathal McShane up front to fend for himself. Roscommon, likewise, had the confidence in Sean Mullooly to leave him alone with the Tyrone full-forward for company.
Even on the few occasions when the hosts were carved open, the Roscommon manager remained confident in his approach, knowing only an attack-based game could see them come up trumps against the Red Hand.
Tyrone may have been carefully minding their lead, but it wasn’t doing anything to that renewed Roscommon self-belief. That was never going to be enough, but Roscommon couldn’t be faulted for the lack of a clinical edge, registering just a single wide in the opening half, an audacious attempt by Conor Cox as he attempted to replicate his tight-angle attempt from the Connacht final. It was forgiven considering the lift he gave when popping over a score of the highest quality midway through the half. As the game progressed however, he drifted in the opposite direction.
All the while, Tyrone kept slotting efforts over the strip of black, Niall Sludden leading the way from play, McShane from frees, all of which was allied with Niall Morgan preventing first-half efforts from Cathal Cregg and Enda Smith hitting the net.
Had those efforts hit the net Roscommon could have had something to protect during the second half.
But they were forced to chase. That’s where Tyrone like their opposition and that’s where they kept them.
ROSCOMMON: Darren O’Malley (0-1, one free); David Murray, Seán Mullooly, Conor Daly; Niall Daly (0-1), Conor Hussey, Ronan Daly; Tadhg O’Rourke, Shane Killoran (0-1); Hubert Darcy, Cathal Cregg (0-1), Niall Kilroy; Diarmuid Murtagh (0-4, two frees), Conor Cox (0-2, one free), Enda Smith (0-1).
Subs: Brian Stack (0-1) for Darcy (26mins), Colin Compton for Hussey (48mins), Donie Smith for Cregg (51mins), Fintan Cregg for Killoran (63mins), Andrew Glennon (0-1) for Cox (64mins).
Yellow Cards: Enda Smith (50mins), Shane Killoran (52mins), Tadhg O’Rourke (70+1mins).
TYRONE: Niall Morgan; Hugh Pat McGeary, Ronan McNamee, Rory Brennan; Michael Cassidy, Frank Burns (0-1), Michael McKernan; Colm Cavanagh, Brian Kennedy (0-1); Matthew Donnelly (0-2), Niall Sludden (0-3), Peter Harte (0-1); Darren McCurry (0-1), Cathal McShane (0-8, five frees), Conor Meyler.
Subs: Ben McDonnell for Kennedy (28mins), Kieran McGeary for HP McGeary (31mins), Richard Donnelly for McDonnell (51mins), Padraig Hampey for Cassidy (51mins), Conor McAliskey for Sludden (63mins), Aidan McCrory for Meyler (70+2mins).
Yellow Cards: Hugh Pat McGeary (6mins), Brian Kennedy (27mins), Ben McDonnell (35+1mins), Kieran McGeary (35+3mins), Colm Cavanagh (40mins), Conor Meyley (50mins).
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath).