Let’s think about Tyrone

Midweek again and so the countdown is on ahead of our final National League match of 2020. It’s a big one for us too, as we need to win it if we’re to hold onto our Division One status for another year. This Round 7 tie sees us up against Tyrone at MacHale Park where throw-in on Sunday is set for 2pm. Fermanagh’s Niall Cullen is the ref for it and the game will be streamed live on the TG4 Player with full deferred coverage also available on TG4.

We head into Sunday with our fate very much in our own hands. It’s all very simple – if we beat Tyrone we stay up. If we lose, of course, we’re goners and if we draw we need a dig out from results elsewhere. As the saying goes, the Good Lord helps those who help themselves so we know what we need to do.

Tyrone sit one point above us in the table having garnered six points in the seven games they’ve played this year. It’s worth a quick recap on those as, no more than ourselves, they’ve had a bit of a topsy-turvy League campaign in 2020.

Way back in late January, Mickey Harte’s team began with a win. That was a 1-14 to 1-9 success over Meath at Healy Park. The following weekend, though, they went under 1-12 to 0-11 to Ulster rivals Monaghan at Castleblaney.

Round 3 saw them claim a notable scalp when, in a match that was played at Edendork as Storm Ciara had rendered Healy Park unplayable, they beat Kerry by a single point, 0-14 to 0-13.

A fortnight later, however, they travelled down to Pearse Stadium and found themselves on the end of a real hiding. The 2-25 to 0-12 pounding they suffered that day was their worst result under Mickey Harte.

Dublin wouldn’t have been their first choice opponents after that traumatic experience. However, with concerns about Covid already starting to come to the fore that weekend at the end of February, the Red Hand County claimed their second major scalp of the spring as they got the better of the Dubs by 0-10 to 0-7.

Their Round 6 match wasn’t, of course, played until last Sunday afternoon. Getting a result out of Donegal in Ballybofey is always a bit of an ask and Tyrone weren’t able to do this as the home side prevailed by 2-17 to 2-13. That result secured Donegal’s Division One status while it left Tyrone needing to get something from the trip to Castlebar to stay up.

Getting results in MacHale Park is, though, something Tyrone are pretty good at. Two years ago they humbled us at the venue, winning by 2-14 to 0-8, and the previous two times they played us in the League at Castlebar – in 2015 and 2013 – they won as well.

So Tyrone will have no worries rocking up to MacHale Park expecting that a win is well within their capabilities. That said, as we really do tend to perform better with our backs to the wall, they’ll know that it’s a win they’ll have to earn if they’re going to get it.

Which brings us to the small matter of the Ulster Championship. A week after Tyrone play us, they’re heading back to MacCumhaill Park to face Donegal in a knockout Ulster quarter-final clash. I think it’s fair to conclude that, even at this stage, that game will be occupying their thoughts to a greater degree than our meeting on Sunday.

So, they have the better record between us at MacHale Park, we’re in flying form after last weekend, they’ve followed every loss in this League campaign with a win, we’re the toughest of opponents when it’s really put up to us, their minds might not be fully on the job at hand on Sunday.

What does that mean in terms of who is likely to prevail on Sunday? I’ve no idea so it’s over to you for a crowd-sourced view on that.

How will we do against Tyrone?

  • Win (80%, 614 Votes)
  • Lose (14%, 105 Votes)
  • Draw (7%, 50 Votes)

Total Voters: 769

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50 thoughts on “Let’s think about Tyrone

  1. Be interesting to see team selection for this one ( on both sides)!! Tyrone surely have that game against donegal in their heads! Do they go full throttle against a hungry mayo team needing another win at home. Has the makings of a great game!

    Very hard to believe we are actually looking forward to games after the months that have passed. Have to hand it to the players, some commitment. Long may it last. Fair play WJ on a serious service..great to have it back proper – with near daily check ins now. Hopefully this mayo team give us a winter to remember for the right reasons.!

  2. Hard to believe the amount of players Horan has to choose from now. Not long ago people saying no new talent in the county. Along with last Sunday squad there’s towey Treacy carr Hanley McLoughlin Boland McHale orme and that’s just the forwards. Great to have the options hopefully we get to see plenty of them. I think we have enough to beat Tyrone and put 2 wins back to back. Feel sorry for the minors with the games called off so close to the start maybe they’ll get to play it next year at u18.

  3. Wet and very windy weather forecast for the week-end. Wouldn’t this be a super occasion to relocate Mayo v Tyrone to the Dome in The Centre of Excellance.

  4. Tyrone have a scarily good record in MacHale park. I see the Donegal game as a negative, Harte will probably go first choice 15 to get some momentum built and a rythym going. Tyrone have always done well in Qualifiers, so the fact that they are playing two massive games in 7 days wont change their approach to Sunday! This will be a war for survival.

  5. No Doubt, I think your optimism is getting the better of you there with the players you listed out. Towey and Orme have yet to feature at any meaningful level bar training squads and neither Treacy nor Hanley are currently on the panel, so i think you are jumping the gun there a little.
    Next Sunday will certainly not be the game for anyone lacking experience. Conditions will not suit us, Tyrone will not give us the acres of space that Galway did, Tyrone will have a defensive structure that Galway did not, Tyrone will foul and drag and pull all over the field to make damn sure we do not get a run on them, Tyrone have a few big units in their side that will ask different questions of our back six (which lets not forget conceded 17 points and 6 or 7 wides against Galway), and, Galway knew a defeat would have no bearing on their division 1 status – that is not the case with Tyrone.
    I do believe we will get the job done, but it will be tight, scrappy, frustrating and ugly. Sunday will be a day for the auld dog, not the pup. We can keep the pups for Leitrim but we need the teeth out for Sunday.

  6. I suspect Tyrone isnt the happiest of camps at the minute.
    The timing of colm cavanaghs retirement was strange and no good luck message to him from Harte or county board isnt great form.
    Also Harte seems to have a distrust of talented inside forwards, guys like Mark Bradley and lee brennan who were lighting up our screens in the club champo cant get in, he favours 15 athletes.

    However what you will get from them is some proper tackling and physicality, Conroy, Mark Moran etc were running amok last week without a glove being laid on them. Its unlikely Tyrone will be as soft as galway were.

    Then there is the Conor McKenna factor, like most lads returning from oz i expected it to take him a long time to adjust, sure enough in the first 20 or so minutes against donegal he looked very rusty and his touch was way off but when he got up to speed in the 2nd half he looked a serious weapon, Built like a tank, lightning quick and can finish. Even put michael murphy on his arse at one point. Oisin Mullin is the man for him

    I fancy Mayo to win, just think we have much more scoring options than them at the minute, and i suspect they will have more than an eye on the donegal clash a week later which will define their whole season (on the flipside im sure JH will be thinking about Roscommon game at this point, who needs minutes, who needs protecting etc)

  7. Pebblesmeller (great name). My point is any 1 of those could be called on if needed and would fit into the team without weakening the side. Compare that to recent times where we’d be checking the subs bench looking for someone to stick on in hope more than anything. Agree with your piece about game on Sunday.

  8. Its a weird place mentally for players and management at the minute.
    Im sure Mayo have more than an eye on Roscommon at the minute (2 weeks out – no offence to Leitrim but i would expect our 2nd string to dispatch them), similarly Tyrones biggest game of the year just a week away v Donegal when the likely Ulster championship winner will be decided.

    Obviously both group of players would like to win both games preferably but if given the choice between losing this sunday or losing v Roscommon (or Donegal respectively) then i expect it would be a championship win all day long

    Just such a weird time pyschologically for players thoigh judging by last sunday we seem to be in a much happier place than where we were in March

  9. Hard for Horan to change a winning team but i think its horses for courses and we need a bit more experience to tame Tyrone. Everybody on a bit if a high after the weekend leaves us wide open for a Tyrone smash and grab.
    With a heavier higher pitch and nordie pulling,grabbing,sledging,blocking runners etc our new young guns could be in for a bit of a lesson.
    I might be in the minority here but I think the league is more important this year (purely based on the fact that I think the championship will be heavily covid affected)
    Being in division 1 next season it so important that we have a chance to proper bed in the young blood against the best.

  10. I agree with you up to a point FW about bringing in some of the older more grizzled lads to suit the opposition but there is another school of thought that JH might perhaps give a vote of confidence to the outfit that player so well last week and show them the jersey is theres until someone takes it off them.

    I suspect if there are going to be guys coming in the 2 most likely will be Padraig O’Hora (because he will relish the physical stuff) and Kevin McLoughlin (as he is awesome and our saviour from relegation most years 🙂 )
    Apart from that will mostly be the same i reckon

  11. Agree with Supermac, if ever there was a game for Kevin Mac this is it. I might get slated with this considering he scored 1-1 o 1-2, but id drop loftus….(just dont see the robust Tyrone system suiting him), move diarmuid to midfield an put Kevin in the half forward line.

  12. Loftus isn’t a shrinking violet, put him in there and let him at it. I would also start the likes of mark Moran again and let them get a taste for the close attention that Tyrone will surely give them. Start them and finish the game with the more experienced players if possible.
    Any mention of who the referee will be? David gough would be my choice, he doesn’t allow much to go unpunished.

  13. Hard to know what to change if anything. I’d put Barrett somewhere in the back six and perhaps have Boyle in reserve if needed. I think Chrissy is more likely to have a full game in him if needed hence I’d start him ahead of Boyle. Not sure any change is really needed at the front, but I’d have McLoughlin in as lets face it, if there’s ever a player who’s saved our blushes be it to keep us in Division one or prevent an embarrassing result against London, Kevin has done it. That Old dog is needed for the hard road. Not sure as to who’d lose out mind.

  14. I would be thinking Barret,O Hora and Kev Mc myself.
    It’s great to have more options as we do now,we really really have to stay up though in my opinion to develop our new options, it’s a crucial game on Sunday and I hope we will do it.

  15. Would the fact that MacHale Park is one of the smallest intercounty grounds in the country have anything to do with Mayo’s dubious home record there? I believe it certainly suits Tyrone and other counties who like to stop players playing. [Roscommon?] Likewise, I do not believe that it suits Mayo’s usually expansive style.

  16. Supermac,
    The championship outlook for Mayo and Tyrone is vastly different, particularly with it being knockout this year. Tyrone have to have half an eye on their outing v Donegal, it’s like an All Ireland final for them. Mayo on the other hand have two weeks to go before meeting the Rossies and shouldn’t, if they’re serious about championship, have to worry unduly about Leitrim. And James will have his memories of London in to remind him and them. Going into a championship game v the Rossies on the back of a relegation would be seriously wounding whereas going into it on the back of a good result v Tyrone would be seriously positive. We have to consider that Tyrone have been relegated before in recent times without the experience being seriously harmful to them so I think that that date with Donegal will be very much on their mind.

  17. Was really excited earlier in the week about the Tyrone game but with the rising number of cases in schools , clubs and county teams , the match or result doesn’t seem as important now .
    Having said that I think JH will go for a few more physical players for dealing with Tyrone and all the stuff they dish out .

  18. My Ball with no club football and schools closed for a week together with increased restriction, numbers are inevitably going to drop. It’s how to handle things in the new year if and when numbers increase again. That’s the tricky bit….

    Now back to football…. I’d like to see Horan rotate a bit. Reality is that IF we progress in this championship then fresh legs are important. Some of the younger/newer players would do well to experience action on the weekend. I’d like also to see Parsons, Barrett and Boyler get game time. We want to get as many match fit and avoid injuries. Staying in Div 1 would be nice and useful but a visit to div wouldn’t worry me provided it was for just 1 season. It hasnt impacted all that negatively on others so I wouldn’t like to see anyone making a big deal if things dont go our way at the wknd. Championship is all that matters and in fairness to management they have given loads of opportunities to new and relatively untested lads in the league this year. Experience which should stand to them.

  19. Hello,

    Is it not exciting? Mayo management may go with the same team as last Sunday or make 5 changes.

    Just sit back, relax and enjoy the flight of every ball next Sunday and hopefully it will find safe Mayo hands.

  20. @Mayonaze. Spot on. Definitely need to rotate. If management have any desire to make it to an all-ireland final and have a team in a fit state to win it, then there has to be a big squad of fresh match ready players available. Why do you think we didn’t do so well in the 2nd half of the All-Ireland semi last year – well, it didn’t help many were running on an empty tank.

    The other thing is the mindset of subs and what they bring to the table when they do come on. Rugby seems to have made the seamless transaction of making use of 20 players for a game. And when the players do come on, they don’t just play second fiddle to their teammates already on the field. It probably is a management issue and admittedly a tough nut to crack but I think having a culture in the squad that it is accepted it is a 20 man game on match day is very important – with no player feeling undermined if coming off the bench.

  21. I would suggest we line out the same team against Tyrone as the last day, give them an idea what to expect if and when we play Roscommon, if things aren’t going well up to half time or earlier, introduce the seasoned warriors at that stage to finish the game.
    For the game against Leitrim play players who need match time, rest the young bucks and let them loose against Roscommon.
    There is a lot of talk why James Horan did not include some of the Knockmore players last week and I was one of the people that castigated James on his selection I have been proved wrong , and I apologise. to James , and will not be repeating any criticism in the future, as last Sunday was one of my best experiences for a long long time, beating the old enemy by such a margin in their own back yard, so much for McGuinnes’s coaching. Delighted see to Ciarain McDonald on board his influence on the quality of our attacking and positional sense was so evident.

  22. @Mayonaze, thats the best post i’ve seen all week, totally sums up my thoughts. We’ve been 20 odd years in Div 1 with no AI title, just cant see the big issue with going down, if anything we take too much pride in our Div 1 status, look at the rebuilding job Donegal did from D2. We havent even won a Connacht title in 5 years!!!

    For me its all about the Roscommon game. If it means trying new options or ideas on Sunday that get us in the best possible shape for the rossies, but may cost us D1, then so be it. Its all about championship.

  23. I would flip the “we havent won the all ireland being in Div 1 for 20 years” argument. Last team to win an all ireland from Div 2 was Armagh in 2002. In the 17 seasons since that only 3 teams from Div 2 have contested but lost the AI Final. Cork 09, Down 10, Donegal 14. Div 1 is the best barometer as to the form teams. Going down to Div 2 is acceptable if you come back up straight away the next season. A run of injuries and a freak result and all of a sudden your 2 years in Div 2 and standards slip. Mayo have to treat Tyrone game as a championship game as the championship could be called off at any moment. No point saying its all about the Roscommon game, when all ye know for sure is that the Tyrone game is going ahead, let alone the Leitrim game.
    I dont see Div1 status as a badge of honour, just a guide that we are staying consistent and most likely to remain semi final contenders as a minimum each year.

  24. Have to agree with casual observer. Division 1 is where it is at.
    There is no guarantee at all if we went down to division 2 that we would bounce straight back.

  25. Pebbles, Towey featured as a sub against Monaghan and Kerry. Scored a wonder point in Clones, and an impressive free against Kerry. He really caught my eye on both occasions, and he was very comfortable on the ball, particularly in Castlebar.

  26. I think It will be a very different match against Tyrone. People saying Tyrone will have one eye on match next week are correct however at the same time there is more at stake. Div 1 status is a big bonus but the real reason I think Tyrone will really want to win this on Sunday is to prove to themselves they are still a force and they can then go on to Donegal with a winning frame of mind. In fact I would write off the Ballybofey League match last week as shadow boxing.
    Also the Galway game is done now and while it was very sweet but if we lose on Sunday it will have counted for absolutely nothing. To this end we need experience out there this weekend and a few hard nuts ala OHora and seasoned players ala KMAC to show Mayo are up for this and up for the championship.
    Its worthwhile putting out a strong team this time. With all due respect to Leitrim they might not even field a team for the championship so our next big game after Sunday is surely Roscommon. And we’ll need battle hardened fellas for that one.
    But the most important think to secure right now is our proud Div1 record so Sundays game for me will be as god as championship.

  27. To anyone who doesn’t mind dropping to division 2 just remember there is no “I’m only going down for 1 year” section. We need to treat Tyrone like a championship game and stay in division 1…. having said that if we lose I don’t agree galway game will count for nothing. The younger players won’t fear galway next time out and it keeps mayo on an upward curve against galway something that had gone the other way lately.

  28. Someone suggested dropping Loftus , I sincerely hope that isn’t the case . We have to show confidence to players in form , Loftus was excellent against Galway and if anything looks like he has got a good bit stronger . His kicking is fantastic , we need that so bad if we are going to progress especially if playing Aido at 14 . Need a big game from Diarmuid this weekend , gone too quiet far too often lately , when he’s bouncing and worked up the man is near our best asset imo .

    Best of luck to players and management, tough times for us mere mortals , love nothing more than to be in McHale park Sunday supporting .

  29. Dropping down to Div 2 would be a disaster especially when we are bringing through so many young players. They need to be exposed to the best teams to improve, div 1 is now very competitive and is the best preparation for championship. Yes teams have dropped to div 2 and rebounded a year later such as Tyrone & Donegal but plenty of big teams have struggled following relegation, Galway spent years in div 2, look where Cork and Derry ended up.

  30. D1 obviously isn’t as important to Mayo mangers as it is to some on here. 2013 we relied on Cillian to kick a last minute sideline to keep us up…we were the best team in the Country that year. Rochford relied on Kevin Mac in the last second 2 years ago to keep us up. Was it 2017 Aido produced a masterclass in MacHale against Donegal to keep us up on the final day! If D1 was so vital as you’d be led to beileve on here, why have Horan and Rochford not treated it more seriously until the last game or so? Why didn’t they ensure survival earlier in them campaigns? We were a top 2/3 team through all them years……

    I get everyones point that D1 is the place to be, no doubt about it, but theirs a 6/4 chance we’ll be in D2 Sunday evening. Tyrone are unbeaten in MacHale in 28 years, and we seem to play our worst football on average at home. Its not the end of our AI ambitions for 20 and 21 if we lose. We’ve flirted long enough with relegation, can’t possibly keep getting away with it.

  31. I completely disagree that relegation would be a disaster. But there are clearly two schools of thought on that. I do think that remaining in Div 2 would be very bad and the longer you’re down the harder it is to get back up and compete in championship. However, if you’re not good enough to bounce back up then you’ve no right to even consider an All Ireland.

    If we go down it would be a real test to see how useful the younger lads can be. It would be a challenge. It could take some spotlight off Mayo..off this division 1 status which has won us nothing, bar 2 national leagues in 20 years. A run of confidence boosting results in div 2 could galvanise a team.

    Before anyone thinks I want us to go down, I don’t!! But if we, do then the challenge needs to be embraced. Staying in Div 1 is obviously what we want but a once off vacation to Div 2 would do Mayo no major harm. And as I’ve said, if you dont go straight back up then you’re simply not good enough. No excuses can be made in Div 2 for Mayo whereas it is fair to say that this season in div 1, the fall of fixtures was unkind to us. If we avoid relegation then I think management deserve praise for managing to do so, with an unfavourable series of fixtures while at the same time having given lots of game time to new and untested players.

    The league should be about trying out things, blending and trying get a feel for players in different positions, different systems of play etc.

    I honestly couldn’t care less about the amount of time we’ve remained in Div1 in the league. The only thing that counts is Sam Maguire. How many times have you won it. Pardon my french, but screw the league.

  32. Mayo can and will win on Sunday it should be a good game of football I don’t think Tyrone will be defensive as some people thinks on here they will attack and that is where Mayo will catch them on the break

  33. @ Philor there is no need to apologise to james horan. if you felt he was’nt doing the right activities you are well entitled to criticise him for his team selection.I think this is what mayo gaa blog is,A place for differing opinions.I think there will be an almighty battle in mchale park on sunday and if we win by a point i will be a happy bunny.I hope we get no injuries in the match which is critical heading into the championship

  34. I hope people are not getting confused – but I think they are. No-one on the forum wants to see Mayo going down to Div 2. Don’t know how people are coming to that conclusion. The point is however that the task to keep us up doesn’t have to be handed to the same 15 players as last week. Those players who played last week now have had a taste of inter-county after a long lay-out. We now need more to get this taste. There are just as good if not better players in the panel that must be utilised. That is what rotation is about. The last thing we want is to find ourselves progressing in the championship with just a small number of match fit players who eventually end up not being able to perform.

  35. Tyrone are always difficult. Their no 11 that came back from A is a handful. Mchale Park could be soggy and not suit us. Still it is a great chance t6 keep up

  36. There no need to be fearful of Tyrone we are well capable of doing a number on them plenty of talent in this mayo team if times were different mchale Park would have 15000 mayo fans going down Sunday expecting a win james has this team primed and ready for championship so onwards and upwards

  37. Good on Ah Ref .. he’s on the ball with the team selection fairly lively.. Not sure about Keegan corner back

  38. The more of the field Kevin Mcloughlin sees the better, very mobile middle 8, Diarmuid and Walsh to do the the unselfish work that goes unnoticed. Mcloughlin, loftus and Morn up the middle to spray things round looks like a well balanced team. Our old brigade in reserve hopefully to see abit of action as well. Like to see Colm Boyle getting a taste of the action as this is a game suited to him. Is Donie Vaughan injury free, dont recall him having many minutes for club or county this year.

  39. And yet again, it comes down to the wire. Do we know any other way, I don’t think so.

    Nevertheless, this game is key, last week’s performance gave Mayo plenty of coverage. It’s important to remind the country that Mayo are here to compete and will remain so.

    Last week was refreshing to watch as we pressed and pushed on and played confident football. We win by attacking and not sitting back. It wasn’t ideal last week as we did concede 17 points but so long as we score more it doesn’t matter.

    Winning is a habit, something we didn’t have in part 1 of the league, now is the time and platform to build a new habit.

    Solid team.

  40. Donie Vaughan went off with a hamstring or quad injury in Mitchels’ 1st championship game. That was on the August bank holiday weekend however, so he should be recovered by now.

  41. Thanks Wide Ball, if memory serves me right he was carrying an injury in the spring as well and hasnt played much football all year. It would appear from the outside looking in that he would struggle to get up to match fitness with the championship around the corner. Barrett, Higgins and Boyle must be rearing to go looking at these young fellows tearing it up. Good test on Sunday but quietly confident.

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