Mayo 1-11 Tyrone 1-12: late smash and grab foiled at the death

Final score

Photo: Mayo Mick

With ten minutes or so left on the clock this afternoon at McHale Park, a rather large serving of reality-check was about to be served up to us. Tactically naive and with seemingly no idea how to find a way past Tyrone’s rather old-hat but still very effective smothering blanket approach to the game, we were four down and deserved to be. A wild Aidan O’Shea shot at the target that didn’t go anywhere near the posts summed up our frustrations pretty well at that stage.

We ended up losing but what unfolded in that mad-as-a-box-of-frogs final ten minutes went some – though not all – of the way towards undoing what had been a very flat and uninspiring performance up until then. Once Keith Higgins had blasted home the goal that hauled us back into the game, we really went for the throat and two up with just seconds to go we should, of course, have held on for what would have been an undeserved but hugely amusing win. But we gave them a final chance and – literally – paid the penalty for doing so.

Having had a good, hard look at the penalty decision – made by our old pal Maurice Deegan – I have to say that it was a fair enough call. Keith and David Clarke collided with the in-rushing Tyrone forward who was felled as he tried to get his kick away. It looked like a penalty and we can’t really complain that it was given.

Maurice Deegan's not for turning

Photo: Mayo Mick

It wasn’t as if the ref hadn’t been charitable enough to us over the course of those frantic final moments. Sure, he should have been far quicker to book Stephen O’Neill for his time-wasting (and shouldn’t have carded Aidan) when we were four adrift but the two close-in frees he gave us after the goal were very much on the soft side of the spectrum. We’ve had other occasions to grind our teeth about Maurice Deegan’s refereeing but, to be fair to the guy, today wasn’t one of them.

There was a bit of confusion ahead of the throw-in about what our starting fifteen was going to be, with the programme showing a different line-up to the one named on Friday night. The latter team was the correct one but for the best part of an hour after the ball was thrown in it seemed as if that confusion had leached into our play.

Aidan O'Shea fielding

Photo: Mayo Mick

We won plenty of ball around the middle third, we defended reasonably well (even if the half-back line have enjoyed better first halves) but we had no cutting edge up front. Tyrone dropped McNeice back as a sweeper, with the visitors defending in numbers and breaking forward with purpose.  So, despite all the possession we enjoyed in the opening 35 minutes, they went in two points ahead, 0-6 to 0-4, at the break. Two of our opening half points came from play – one from Jason Doherty and the other a thumping left-footed effort from out on the wing by Lee Keegan – with our other two points coming from frees converted by Jason.

Barry Moran replaced the out-of-sorts Seamus O’Shea for the second half but as the weather began to deteriorate so too did our performance. It wasn’t as if the lads weren’t trying – Jason Doherty (who was excellent today) and Michael Conroy (who really needs to accept that that sliding along the deck routine to gather the ball isn’t one for this time of year) worked their holes off trying to punch a way through the visitors’ rearguard but were getting precious little change for their efforts.

In fairness, we started the second half a bit brighter, with frees from Jason and Kevin McLoughlin quickly wiping out the half-time deficit. Just as quickly, though, they’d got this lead back via efforts from play by Penrose and McCarron. Another free from Kevin was cancelled out by a fine point from play by McAlliskey and then when Sean Cavanagh was allowed to advance unchallenged right through the middle and thump one over we really began to look like a beaten outfit.

Enda Varley and Alan Dillon came on to replace Chris Barrett and Cathal Freeman at this stage and while both helped to put some much-needed pep in our step in the game’s final quarter, it did beg the question – as has so often been the case under James Horan – as to why we were so late making these switches. It was obvious for a good ten or fifteen minutes before this that we needed to adopt a different approach if we were to salvage something from this game and equally so that fresh legs – and fresh minds – would be required if we were to have any hopes of making this happen.

Stphen O'Neill getting booked

Photo: Mayo Mick

Another Kevin free cut the gap to three but when McNamee landed a real peach of a score from way out on the left and McCurry popped over a free after we’d made a balls of the kick-out the game appeared to be as good as over. Tyrone were now reverting to type with all their old time-wasting codology at every opportunity but our tactic of repeatedly taking the ball into the contact thirty and more yards from their posts played directly into their hands.

It looked like we could have been there ‘till Christmas without troubling them but in those mad, mad minutes that followed the dam finally broke and we almost bloody swallowed them. It was Jason’s quick hands that played in Keith for the goal and the Burrishoole man released Donal Vaughan – who’d come on for Colm Boyle with less than ten minutes to go –  who blazed over with only the goalie to beat. It’s easy, I know, to be wise after the event but Donie had the goal at his mercy and another green flag then would surely have won the day for us.

Keith's goal

Photo: Mayo Mick

As it was those two charitable free decisions should have been enough to seal the win and from the kick-out after Jason’s final converted free there’s simply no way we should have allowed the ball to get anyway near our posts. But Stephen O’Neill won it around the middle and Aidan hadn’t anything left in the tank to get to him in time before he launched that killer ball right into the danger zone.

In the heel of the hunt, we wouldn’t have deserved a win today and, in one sense, it’s perhaps no bad thing that we were ultimately made to pay for what was overall a very underwhelming display. There’s plenty of talent in this Mayo squad and real potential to challenge for major honours but, no more than any other team in the country, if we go out and play poorly for sixty of the seventy minutes, we’re going to get the kind of return that such lassitude merits.

It’s still only February and so there’s no point going overboard about either the good bits or the bad bits in today’s display. We’ve loads to work on as we build towards the summer and if today’s display – in particular the areas where we let ourselves down – has helped to shine a light on things we need to eradicate or improve then defeat today might ultimately prove to be of greater benefit than a get-out-of-jail win would have done.  Damn it, though, it would still have been delicious to nick it in the way we looked to have done right at the death today.

Mayo: David Clarke; Kevin Keane, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins (1-0); Tom Cunniffe, Colm Boyle, Chris Barrett; Aidan O’Shea, Seamus O’Shea; Lee Keegan (0-1), Richie Feeney, Cathal Freeman; Kevin McLoughlin (0-3, frees), Jason Doherty (0-6, five frees), Michael Conroy. Subs: Barry Moran for Seamus O’Shea, Enda Varley for Barrett, Alan Dillon for Freeman, Donal Vaughan (0-1) for Boyle.

43 thoughts on “Mayo 1-11 Tyrone 1-12: late smash and grab foiled at the death

  1. Although it was a controversial call at the end, we got several very soft frees to keep us in touch including the two that put us in front at the end. The Tyrone lad should never have been allowed to get his hands on the ball in that position so late in the game to give Deegan the chance to give the penalty.

  2. Tyrone had a very Donegal look about their defensive play . The Mayo lads might have being getting flash back to last years all ireland final . Exciting end . Would have to question some of the decision making for some of the Mayo players regarding some of the passes they made . I also feel that the forwards could have worked a hell of a lot harder in defending and putting as much pressure as possible on the Tyrone back line . At times it was too easy for Tyrone to work the ball up to their forwards. Lots of room for improvement.

  3. Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and giving it right back again!!!!
    All in all we did not deserve this one and no use blaming Mr Deegan. I did not see what caused the penalty due to Tyrone supporters leaving in front of me but Tyrone got the ball upfield too easily.
    We gave away possession far too easily, particularly in the second quarter, to deserve to win. Sometimes the use of the ball belied belief – the under 12′;s would’nt do it. We were also to slow and deliberate in taking frees as if we wanted Tyrone to get properly organised first. We also demonstrated something I have often referred to before – the lack of ball winning ability in the full forward line when it comes to 50/50 or worse ball.
    All in all lots of room for improvement but lots of capacity to improve,

  4. Yet again Mayo failed to keep the ball when ahead and the clock ticking down. When oh when will Mayo teams, coaches, scribes and indeed supporters wake up to such a recurring and crucial flaw in Mayo tactical awareness – and still they wonder why they rarely win from the front.

  5. Deegan made the correct call on the penalty and the best side on the day won. Tyrone are no great shakes they won’t win the league or championship however they remain a tough nut to crack. Mayo six starting forwards only managed two scores from play that summed up the poor all round performance on the day.

    P.S Great capture on Higgins goal Mayo Mick.

  6. Thanks for the match report and the snaps. Regardless of the performance, the win would’ve been nice!

  7. Thanks MO2013, I didn’t mean to sound like I was giving out about Deegan, (he has given us reason to in the past!) What I was trying to say is we’re not cute enough when we’re leading by a point or two, to block or give away a free way out the field, stop the flow of play, wind down the clock. Looking back at the highlights earlier the penalty was given at 72.45

  8. Any full back line that allows a high ball to break behind them with no cover deserve to lose. We need to have a serious look at how we defend the high ball. It has cost us dear over the years.

  9. Horan has to take blame for not getting extra cover back in front of the square(same as first 5 mins in the all ireland).There was plenty of time to organise cover when Doherty had the last free to put us 2 up.Only a goal was going to beat us then.Pull two half forwards back in front of the full back line and plug everything.Keane could have fisted that ball then instead of been forced to try to catch it.

  10. ^ This. Horan also needed to make subs and tactical switches, but it happened too late. A touch conservative at the moment.

    Also, can players stop hopping the ball on a wet dead surface?

  11. Whole team and coach needs to look at how bad their passing ,ball-handling and tactics were on DVD,looks like everyone thought they could play at 50% and it would be good enough,good reality check for this team and maybe now they might realise they have a hell of a lot of improving to do if they want to even come close to competing for anything this year

  12. I disagree with MO2013 it definitely wasn’t a penalty as I’ve looked at it about 10 times in slow motion Tyrone player has kicked the ball at the goal before Clarke or Higgins make contact – umpires should have called it

    Willie joe I also disagree with you as they were frees (and not handy ones) firstly Tyrone player foot tackles Alan Dillon as he is picking the ball up off the ground second is an arm pull on Jason as he is going through on goal

    I thought we were unlucky to lose it but where we lost it mainly was our poor distribution from half back line to forward line 6-7 times it went to a Tyrone player when we were on attack the other thing that’s obvious is we are hitting the corners way too much that’s fine if there are runners coming through as for the Higgins goal but we need to get a centre forward to win primary possession from direct ball with Jason and conroy feeding off him – when we started direct running at Tyrone we got most return. All in all I thought the performance wasn’t bad and did merit the win but that’s football I think plenty of food for thought and now it’s the dubs up next!!!

  13. 2pts from play for the entire game,no foward willing to take the pass from Dillon at the death and despite Horan’s best efforts, no sign of a real good foward being found -worrying stuff.

  14. I disagree completely nallystand after watching it over and over-clear penalty.Keith clattered into the guy BEFORE he made contact with the ball,plain as day.Naivety in the last minute cost us a game we didn’t deserve to win

  15. The backs delivered the ball out far to slowely to beat Tyrone. They played around with it while the Tyrone defence got into good positions. When the ball came in our forwards were all double marked. It reminded me of the Tyrone Kerry final in 08. We need to wise up tactically when we take on Tyrone Donegal et al. There was a lot of honest endeavour throughtout on a more positive note. We could, should have won. That idea seemed crasy with 65 minutes on the clock. Very impressed with O’Shea and Cavanagh

  16. It was an odd game and we nearly poxed a win out of it but those unforced errors were shocking.So we’re 50/50 outta two home games against the cannon fodder of the division (maybe exaggerating there but it feels good to belittle the once great Kerry!)…& ALL the experimenting is used up in the half forward line…2 converted half backs & the only fresh face;Cathal Freeman.
    If I was Cathal Carolan , Alan Murphy , Keith Rogers & Darren Coen I’d be hoping for a sea change / see change

    Keith Higgins is a star but a lotta mileage from both codes surely needs a rest…a bit like all Irish managers picking Duff & Keane over the years when we know their qualities

  17. Got to disagree with most of ye, I didn’t see that as a penalty at all. Donnelly had lost control of the ball and I didn’t see enough contact from a Mayo player that could have led to a penalty.
    If we’re awarding penalties for things like that then we’re looking at 5 or 6 a game, especially bearing in mind the conditions. We’ll be heading down the soccer road if we’re handing out penalties every time there’s contact with a forward as he bears down on goal.

    But all said, we were poor today and probably didn’t deserve anything from the game anyway. We have the same problems in the full forward line we had last year and we still haven’t nailed down the no.11 position.
    The return of A Moran and C O’Connor (hopefully he’ll return to the full forward line) will help the situation in the forwards, while it’s encouraging to see Doherty in such good form.
    Might be worth trying S O’Shea at 11 or maybe Harte or Gibbons.

    Tough trip to Croke Park next against an impressive looking Dublin side.

  18. @ Opt2misteek It’s all irrelevant now of course, but I’d like to see your definition of clatter. If he did make contact before or while the ball was struck, it was absolutely minimal and was arm to arm, or even hand to hand.

    Also, speaking about refereeing consistency, Down were denied a clear penalty at a crucial stage last night for a similiar but far more blatant infringement that happened in our match today. How is one a penalty, and another not?

  19. If we had went on to win this i dont think the opinions would have been any different on here, this is the time of year for us to have a reality check and not to take anything for granted.
    That we didn’t give up the hunt in the last 10 minutes shows determination and a mindset that has been lacking for so long in Mayo teams and having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory will be a bitter but good pill to have to swallow.
    We have to work out ( as have most of the other counties) how to beat the blanket defence and negative football of the Donegals and Tyrones and if we had stolen the result today we may have not learned anything. I see this result as a blip but an important one and one we can use to our advantage as the year unfolds.

  20. While it was disappointing to lose this one, particularly after the way in which we seemed to have salvaged the win, I don’t think we can have too many complaints. We seemed to be second best all afternoon and the win really looked to have come from nowhere.
    I’m not really too concerned – the league is not the priority this year as the Galway match is so early. This was not the case last year when it wasn’t until July when our first real test came. All we need to do is stay up – I would hope to gather enough points in our remaining home games to do that.
    However, there are some things that need looking at. We do need more forwards. Keegan is a fine footballer and scored a classy point, but he is not the answer in the half forward line. I presume the idea of Kevin McLoughlin playing in the corner is to allow for a two man full forward line but I just can’t see that working in the championship – Doherty isn’t strong enough or fast enough, in my opinion. True, he is playing well at present, but I myself think that that’s as a result of him playing with colleges with DIT and being quite sharp as a result. A few new players to be blooded in the next few outings would be good. Freeman looked better today but still didn’t show anything to suggest he will be there come the Championship. Is there any word on Harte, Kilcoyne etc.? And is Shane Nally fulfilling on the promise he showed as a minor at all?
    Also, and I know I will be slated for this, but I wish people would stop calling for Higgins to be moved to centre half back. He does not possess the strength needed for there – that was proven again today when Harte just pushed him over en route to scoring a point. As was written in the Indo yesterday, he is our finest man marker and corner back – and we do not have any natural replacements. Comparing him to Lacey is silly – Lacey is built far better and Donegal had good replacements and a system that did not rely on man marking as such. Mayo have neither of those things.
    You would think Mayo need another forward or two for the Championship if they are to really have a crack at Sam. Hopefully the next few months will bring something along in this vein. And no injuries to key players as that would be something we would find hard to deal with, particularly any of our key players from last year.

  21. Digets, I’m just saying that it was a clear penalty and if the shoe was on the other foot and we were denied the penalty I for one would be livid,and many posters here would be wringing their hands saying that the ref has shafted us again

  22. Lads there will only be one o shea midfield come summer and the midfield of last summer will re emerge I think. Sos is not an 11 either. He is more of a man to come in but not to start…he was taken off in the last 2 games but think in my opinion he is no 4 after aidan barry and jason.

  23. Didn’t see the game so I can’t pass comment on players, but I do not agree that in loosing the match we might benefit more from it further down the road. Wining is a habit and even better if it’s against the head and sending the Tyrone lads home with their tails between their legs would have been an added bonus.

    Hard to understand though, how a team having gotten themselves into a winning position, could not hold out for one last minute. A bit of that cynical fouling, we have heard so much about, might not have gone astray there today.

    I notice a few swipes were taken at J H over tactics and late substitution during the match. Now I know James is a good and well respected manager, but even he can have a blind spot from time to time and the odd shot across the bows, from well meaning supporters can do no harm. (wonder does he read any of this stuff ?)

    That said, winning the League should not the priority, hopefully we can pick up enough points to stay in division 1, but more importantly find a few more players to strengthen the panel, and by the looks of it, this might be easier said than done !!!

  24. That was a terrible decision to give a penalty . The reason the Tyrone player fell was because Clarke had smothered his shot and he could nt follow through so he had to go down .After he gave it he consulted his empires who judging by Deegans body language
    must both have disagreed. Then after instead of blowing the final whistle he literally hands us a chance to equalise. . Also gave us two ridiculous frees after we equalised.
    . Just a bad ref

  25. Lets face it we are not going to ‘find’ one or two top class forwards between now and May. Top class forwards show up from a very young age. They dont just appear out of the woodwork. We have to use the lads we have as best we can.
    I had thought Lee Keegan might have been an addition to the forwards but on the evidence of the last two games I’m not so sure.
    Andy Moran, Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Dillon and Michael Conroy look like certainties for a starting place. That leaves two positions. Cillian O Connor looks likely but if Doherty continues to improve and his free kicking is consistant that could be an interesting battle. Varley always looks lively and Richie Feeney is undoubtedly going to give a good performance. I dont think either of the Freeman cousins will make it unless there is a huge improvement. I’m not sure what the story is with Evan Regan or Pat Harte. Aidan Kilcoyne is in England. Not sure either what the story is with Tom Parsons (personally I would like to see him have another chance).
    Outside of those you are looking at taking a midfielder ( Gibbons, An O Shea, Barry Moran and using them). My preference would be Aidan O Shea but he is performing so well in the middle it would be hard to move him into the edge of the square.
    I cant see any easy answers!

  26. That game was a reality check. I think the win over Kerry has to be looked at in the light of what Dublin did to Kerry yesterday.
    The big difference I saw between Dublin and Mayo yesterday was the speed at which the ball is moved from back to forwards. Dublin did it with a lot of long and very accurate foot passing. Ours was mostly done via multiple short hand passes. By the time the ball got to the Mayo forwards they were surrounded by Tyrone defenders. Most dissapointing items for me were
    1. Only 2 points from play. Simply not good enough on a fairly good day/good surface
    2. That in the final 10 secs of the game, S O’Neill was even allowed to deliver that ball in to the square. (never mind that it wasn’t dealt with) He should have been fouled out on the sideline and the defence packed by the time the ball was evntually delivered from the free – I thought we were the kings of cynical fouling? 🙂

  27. It was a penalty, Higgins pushed him and Clarke foot blocked. Antway we didn’t deserve to win and it would have papered over the cracks if we did. Passing was very poor, SOS had a bad day out, also Barrett gave away a lot of ball. We were naive to allow Tyrone up the field for the last goal. Its only Feb, so a good wake up call in my opinion. Looking forward to the Dublin game, who are playing really well. We will need to up our game big time.

  28. ‘worked their holes off’…I stopped reading after that …….
    If your analysis is as insightful as your language I think I’ll give this site a miss in the future

  29. “Starting” at the end:-

    (1)Penalty very harsh decision,

    (2)Referee did o’k but I am amused at this referee smiling and clapping players on the back. Is he posing for the camera?.

    (3) Disappointed with our sideline in that they did not spot the Tyrone No 10 in our forward line. There for at least 30 minutes before “spotted”. He covered so much ground that he was tired and taken off towards the end.

    (4) Keith Higgins to be admired – corner back having to come up and show forwards how to score a goal – brilliant goal.

    (5) The stand is a disaster for big games – no passage way when you come up through the vomitery – you have to pass through seats and disturb other spectators if you have to travel to another area.

    (6) Difficult to egress the stand for same reason – should there be exits at the top and go out at the rear?

    (7) Minute’s silence for the late John McAndrew R.I.P – Mayo official running towards the factory end maybe he was not talking to himself but he should have remained where he was until the time was up.

    (8) Was Tom Cunniffe good enough for c. h. back.

    (9) O Shea outstanding at midfield – briliant.

    (10) need at least two backs and three forwards to reach the All Ireland Final ?

    (11) Micheal Conroy coming into his own. Great heart, great spirit and there is a buzz when he gets the ball.

    (12) We will beat the Dubs( again) .

    (13) At least three footballs not returned to the field from the spectators at the factory end.


  31. HB – this isn’t the Irish Times or, indeed, the Western People so if the language isn’t to your liking then you probably are in the wrong place. Each to their own and all that, but save us the preachy stuff.

  32. My intention wasn’t to preach………anyway far be it from me to upset the regular contributors on this page
    I just hope for all our sakes the entire squad all work their ‘holes’ off to bring Sam back this year 🙂

  33. Well hol(e)y god…By the way HB,bring Sean Og with ya,might teach him not to mention the ‘M’ word again

  34. Mayo were bad in Sunday and we didn’t deserve to win. Our forward play is poor. Our full back line looks very shaky when a high ball is kicked, esp kevin Keane. Seamus O Shea and Barry Moran aren’t doing enough to impress play alongside Aidan OShea. The sooner our top forwards are back, the better because some guys are getting a big chance to stake a claim and they look out of their depth.
    Horan isn’t making enough changes soon enough. I know he has to look at some guys and see what they are made of but if they aren’t walking the walk then take them off.
    It’s not the end of the world that we lost because I believe that Mayo will win enough games to stay in division one. However stronger teams will have to be played against the dubs, Kildare etc because they are flying at the moment. With Dillon back fit and the likes of Higgins, Caff, aidan o shea, Vaughan, Keegan, feeney & Conroy performing well, results will go mayos way. The best team has to be on the pitch though.

  35. So what WAS your intention, H Brady?

    To fish for a reaction? To demonstrate an air of linguistic snobbery?

    You’ve certainly succeeded in the latter, along with insulting the (greatly admired) administrator of this site.

    Congratulations. Your ego was plainly in need of a boost. Hope that did the trick. Now run along back to the Irish Times, there’s a good lad.

  36. Ease up on the bickering and straighten the jocks it’s going to be a long year, Inshallah

    We looked like a team after a heavy week but that is ok , it’s February we need that work

    On the good side most of the players looked strong breaking tackles – that was not there a few years ago

    Early substitution is what we will need at the business end of the year. This is the time for learning on the hoof and seeing who learns and who can do what

    We do not need any Seaie J buíochas let Dia

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