MAYO 0-8 TYRONE 2-14
Tyrone secured their Division One status for next season with an impressive twelve point victory over Mayo at Castlebar on Sunday afternoon.
Second half goals from Lee Brennan and Conal McCann copper fastened what was an accomplished and vibrant showing by the visitors, who staved off the threat of relegation in swash-buckling fashion.
With captain Matthew Donnelly leading the way, and the likes of Frank Burns, Conor Meyler and Lee Brennan playing energetic support roles, Tyrone were rarely bothered, as a bizarre incident packed first half was followed by a more pedestrian, sedate second period.
Tyrone cruised to victory despite seeing the experienced Colm Cavanagh black carded, Padraig McNulty red carded and the unfortunate Hugh Pat McGeary stretchered off, all inside the opening half an hour.
Tyrone had a strong wind at their backs in the first half, and immediately went about looking to avail of the elements in their favour.
Mattie Donnelly (who struck three superb first half points) swung over the opener in the second minute only for Tom Parsons to respond almost immediately for the hosts.
However that quality effort was to be Mayo’s only score for over half-an hour, as Tyrone took a grip on proceedings.
Connor McAliskey (free) and Niall Sludden with a tremendous effort eased the Red Hands in front, and the early confidence and assurance with which they were playing was demonstrated when slipper Donnelly split the posts with a brace of exceptional strikes.
The only blot on the landscape for Tyrone was a serious looking leg injury which saw Hugh Pat McGeary carried off just before the twenty minute mark, after shipping a heavy tackle from Colm Boyle.
Boyle picked up a yellow card for the infringement and was to see red soon after for a head high lunge at Mark Bradley when the Killyclogher ace was darting towards goal.
By that juncture Tyrone had cruised out ahead 0-7 to 0-1 with Lee Brennan (free) and Frank Burns hitting the target, and despite losing Colm Cavanagh to a black card for an off the ball tackle, the visitors had laid a solid platform on which to push on.
The numbers were evened up when Tyrone midfielder Padraig McNulty was sent off for a clumsy aerial tackle on Lee Keegan, an incident which brought about a premature ending to the Mayo’s star’s afternoon as well due to injury.
A shell-shocked Mayo clawed back the deficit a little during the twelve minutes of stoppage time courtesy of two Conor Loftus pointed frees, but at the interval Tyrone had a comfortable looking five point lead, 0-8 to 0-3.
Cathal McShane poked a goal chance wide as the action resumed, after a barn-storming run by Donnelly, but Tyrone didn’t have too long to wait for that breakthrough major. Lee Brennan was the player to register with an emphatic 40th minute finish high past David Clarke.
Mayo, for whom only one of their starting fifteen managed a point, looked a demoralised and listless outfit as the second half meandered along, with Tyrone in complete control.
Loftus did convert a couple of frees, but placed ball strikes at the other end from McAliskey and sub Declan McClure, with an excellent strike, kept the Red Hands in the box seat.
Entering the closing straight sub Conal McCann drilled a superb goal into the top right hand corner of the net.
And Mayo’s miserable afternoon was compounded when Loftus struck a late penalty off target.
Conor Loftus (0-5, 4 frees), Tom Parsons, Neil Douglas, Fergal Boland (0-1 each)
Lee Brennan (1-3,2 frees), Matthew Donnelly (0-4), Connor McAliskey (0-3, 3 frees), Conal McCann (1-0), Conor Meyler, Frank Burns, Niall Sludden, Declan McClure (0-1 each)