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Tyrone pile pressure on Mayo with convincing win

Mayo 0-8 Tyrone 2-14

Tyrone crushed Mayo at McHale Park to ensure their survival in Division One, and placing the westerner’s top-flight status in peril, writes Francis Mooney.

Stephen Rochford’s side has been a top grade side for two decades, but they must get a point from their trip to Donegal next weekend to avoid relegation to Division Two.

The Red Hands dominated from start to finish, and the loss of four key players didn’t help Mayo’s cause, as injuries and dismissals during an incident-packed opening half severely depleted their resources.

And playing into a stiff breeze, the Ulster champions won the second half handsomely by 2-6 to 0-5, after taking a five points lead into the interval.

Among several unwelcome statistics, Mayo’s starting fifteen managed just one point in the entire game.

In front of a crowd of 10,013, Peter Harte sent Mattie Donnelly through for the opening score, but Tom Parsons had the home side level immediately.

Colm Cavanagh was perfectly placed on his own D to cut out a Diarmuid O’Connor cross, and got himself forward to win the free from which Connor McAliskey eased the Red Hands back in front.

Parsons worked hard around midfield to get the Connacht men going, with Jason Doherty and Kevin McLoughlin also probing for openings, but Tyrone’s fortified defence held firm.

And the home side suffered a blow when Cillian O’Connor was forced out of the game by injury after just 11 minutes.

Tyrone raided at pace from deep to reel off a volley of scores, with Donnelly hitting his third, a superb long-range effort, as they moved into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the end of the opening quarter.

Diarmuid O'Connor of Mayo in action against Connor McAliskey of Tyrone

Hugh Pat McGeary’s impressive defensive contribution was brought to an end when he was stretchered off on 19 minutes following a challenge that earned Colm Boyle a booking, Mayo were down to 14 men on the half-hour when Boyle picked up a second yellow for a challenge on Mark Bradley.

Tyrone also went a man down three minutes later, midfielder Padraig McNulty received a straight red for a reckless challenge which ended Lee Keegan’s involvement in the game.

And Mayo lost yet another key man when Andy Moran was black-carded for an aggressive approach to referee Maurice Deegan as he challenged a decision.

Mayo rallied late in the half for Conor Loftus to slot over two frees, but they trailed by 0-8 to 0-3 at the break.

With big-name players O’Connor, Keegan, Moran and Boyle all out of the picture, the westerners faced a massive task, but they did have the biting wind in their backs as the second half got underway.

It was Tyrone who got in for a goal chance when Donnelly made a driving run through the heart of the opposition defence, but Cathal McShane’s shot shaved the wrong side of a post.

And the Red Hands struck a major blow four minutes into the the half, when Brennan side-stepped Ger Cafferkey to smash the ball to the roof of the net.

Declan McClure and Connor McAliskey tagged on points to push the lead out to ten, and Stephen Rochford and his men were in deep trouble.

They had fallen 12 points behind by the time substitute Fergal Boland ended a 23-minute scoreless spell, but Tyrone had another emphatic response, with Conor Meyler and McShane making the running for substitute Conall McCann to smash a shot to the roof of David Clarke’s net, sealing a convincing win.

To add to Mayo’s woes, Loftus sent a penalty wide deep into stoppage time.

Mayo: D Clarke: C Crowe, G Cafferkey, E O’Donoghue; C Boyle, L Keegan, S Coen, A O’Shea, T Parsons (0-1); J Doherty, K McLoughlin, D O’Connor; A Moran, C O’Connor, A Gallagher.

Subs: C Loftus (0-5, 4f) for C O’Connor (11), P Durcan for Keegan (33), S O’Shea for Moran (BC 35 + 3), F Boland (0-1) for Doherty (54), N Douglas (0-1) for D O’Connor (54), C O’Shea for A O’Shea (60)

Tyrone: M O’Neill; HP McGeary, P Hampsey, C McCarron; C Meyler (0-1), F Burns (0-1), P Harte, C Cavanagh, P McNulty; M Donnelly (0-4), N Sludden (0-1), C McShane; L Brennan (1-3, 0-2f), C McAliskey (0-3, 3f), M Bradley.

Subs: M McKernan for McGeary (19), D McClure (0-1) for Cavanagh (BC, 26), K McGeary for Sludden (49), D Mulgrew for Bradley (51), C McCann (1-0) for McAliskey (54), R Brennan for McCarron (66)

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).