MAYO ARE THROUGH to the All-Ireland senior football final after a strong second half performance saw them past Tyrone in Croke Park today.
Despite trailing by a point at half time, a brilliant second half saw the Connacht champions run out six point winners.
Tyrone had started the game much the stronger of the two sides, though wayward shooting – particularly balls dropping short – seemed to effect both teams.
After taking a two points to one lead early on, Tyrone’s day was made much tougher with the loss of Peter Harte in this collision with Mayo’s Tom Cunniffe.
Mayo suffered their own injury blow after ten minutes when Cillian O’Connor, who’d scored six goals in his last two games for the county, was taken off and preliminary reports suggested he could struggle to recover in time for the All-Ireland final.
The game’s first big talking point came with 25 minutes on the clock when Alan Freeman appeared to find the net for Mayo but the referee had already blown up for a very soft free earlier in the move. To add insult to injury, Kevin McLoughlin somehow missed from 13 yards.
Shortly afterwards, Tyrone lost another key player when Stephen O’Neill was replaced by Ronan O’Neill.
Mayo’s inability to keep the scoreboard operator busy for a lot of the first half cost them and they could have no complaints when they found themselves trailing by four points after 32 minutes as a result.
However, three unanswered scores before half time seemed to swing momentum in the direction of the Connacht side and they only trailed 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.
They were level just a minute into the second period before the game’s second big talking point saw them awarded a penalty despite it appearing, on first viewing, as if Colm Boyle had been brought down outside the area.
Alan Freeman struck a perfect penalty to finally raise the green flag for Mayo and from that moment the Connacht champions never looked back.
Indeed, it would take Tyrone 13 minutes to register a score in the second half but, by that stage, Mayo had raced into a five point lead.
Despite their best efforts, the Red Hands couldn’t narrow that gap for the rest of the game and if it wasn’t for some wasted kickable frees, Mayo’s margin of victory could have been even greater.
They now have the chance to make amends for last year’s All-Ireland final defeat to Donegal when they take on either Dublin or Kerry in the September showdown.
Scorers for Mayo: Alan Freeman 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), Chris Barrett, Lee Keegan, Alan Dillon 0-2 each, Aidan O’Shea, Cillian O’Connor (0-1f), Kevin McLoughlin (0-1f), Enda Varley, Cathal Carolan, Robert Hennelly (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tyrone: Darren McCurry 0-4 (0-2f), Sean Cavanagh (0-1f), Conor McAliskey 0-2 each, Stephen O’Neill, Kyle Coney, Ciaran McGinley, Aidan Cassidy, Ronan O’Neill 0-1 each.
MAYO: Robert Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Chris Barrett; Donal Vaughan, Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Dillon, Keith Higgins; Cillian O’Connor, Alan Freeman, Andy Moran.
Subs: Enda Varley for O’Connor (inj) (11), Michael Conroy for Moran (56), Cathal Carolan for Cunniffe (58), Richie Feeney for Vaughan (64), Barry Moran for Aidan O’Shea (68)
TYRONE: Pascal McConnell; Cathal McCarron, Conor Gormley, Ryan McKenna; Conor Clarke, Peter Harte, Ciaran McGinley; Colm Cavanagh, Sean Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, Stephen O’Neill, Mark Donnelly; Darren McCurry, Conor McAliskey, Joe McMahon.
Subs: Dermot Carlin for Harte (inj) (7), Ronan O’Neill for Stephen O’Neill (inj) (27), Ronan McNabb for Joe McMahon (43), Aidan Cassidy for Matthew Donnelly (47), Kyle Coney for Ronan O’Neill (58).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)