It’s just as well, you know, that we racked up all those League points as early as we did in this campaign. After this evening’s hugely frustrating defeat to Tyrone – coming hot on the heels of last weekend’s one-point loss to Kerry – it appears our ability to close out winnable matches has deserted us.
Because, make no mistake, this match was one we should have won, just as the Kerry one was too. We were poor tonight but Tyrone were no great shakes either and, once we closed the gap to just a single point on the 50-minute mark, we appeared to have all the momentum. But then we stalled completely, adding just a single point before the end, and our chance of taking the points evaporated into the chilly Northern air.
We made one change ahead of throw-in. Rob Hennelly had been named to start in goal but he wasn’t togged and so Rory Byrne started his second match of the campaign, with Colm Reape added to the bench.
We made a dreadful start tonight. Fergal Boland got caught in possession in our half and once Tyrone got the ball they broke rapidly, Burns firing over the opener. Then Paul Towey’s kicked pass went straight to a Tyrone defender and seconds later Harte was pointing at the other end. Then we lost the restart and they scored, via Meyler, from that as well.
Canavan from a mark put them four up after ten minutes. We hadn’t worked the ball further than their ’45 at this stage and our first shot, an effort from the right-hand side that Fergal screwed wide, didn’t come until the 15th minute.
A full 24 minutes passed until we posted our first score. Aidan O’Shea was fouled as he thundered forward but Maurice Deegan – who was as bad this evening as he always is, as he always will be – waved play on. Fergal grabbed the ball, then he was fouled and this time Deegan awarded the free. Ryan nailed it.
Meyler responded immediately but we hit back with our first score from play. David McBrien joined a fast-running attack, offloading to Jordan Flynn who clipped it over.
Harte knifed through our backline to get the next score. Fionn McDonagh then went down, with what looked like hamstring trouble. The Westport player hobbled painfully from the field, Jack Carney coming in to replace him.
Another Harte score – his third of the half, this one after a superb double-dummy, stretched the home team’s lead to six. We cut the gap to five at the break, though, with Ryan pointing a free after Matthew Ruane was hauled down as he burst forward.
We were clearly in bother at that stage and it was no surprise to see that we’d made two changes to the team when they trotted out for the second half. Enda Hession replaced Donnacha McHugh in the backs, while Kevin McLoughlin came in for Paul Towey in the half-forwards.
We now had the benefit of the tricky wind that blew diagonally across the pitch. In that third quarter, which was the best period of the game for us, we used the wind to good effect.
They got the half’s first point, though, when Aidan O’Shea was turned over and they broke quickly to score.
We then reeled off the next five points without reply, cutting the gap back to just a single point. Twenty minutes to go, all of the momentum was now behind us.
Mattie started us off, with a trademark effort on the run, fed nicely by Aiden Orme. Ryan then belted over a cracking score from distance and Jordan Flynn did the same, following a great burst forward by Aidan O’Shea.
Jack Carney bagged our next one, Fergal providing the assist for this one too. We then turned over the restart, Ryan pouncing on it and getting fouled. We should really have got more than the 14-yard free – Tyrone could easily have had a player black carded and is that rule about it being a penalty if a clear goalscoring chance is prevented by foul means still in force? – but from the free Ryan made no mistake and the gap was back to one.
And then, of course, our forward momentum stalled. The only other score we got before the finish was a free from Ryan ten minutes later. Tyrone fared little better in front of the posts but they did enough to eke out a two-point win.
From our perspective, this loss was an annoying one, far more so than last Saturday’s defeat to a much better Kerry team. Tyrone – despite the strong team they named – were barely better than they were against Dublin last weekend and if we were any way properly organised, we’d have beaten them.
Instead, what was a positive League campaign is petering out in underwhelming fashion. We entertain Kildare at Carrick-on-Shannon next weekend, another game we won’t be too bothered about against opponents scrapping for survival.
Will we see more of the same? Or will we start to perform in a way that we know we’re capable of? After tonight’s disappointing display, your guess is as good as mine.
Mayo: Rory Byrne; Lee Keegan, David McBrien, Donnacha McHugh; Oisín Mullin, Aidan O’Shea, Stephen Coen; Jordan Flynn (0-2), Matthew Ruane (0-1); Fionn McDonagh, Paul Towey, Fergal Boland; Aiden Orme, Jason Doherty, Ryan O’Donoghue (0-5, four frees). Subs: Jack Carney (0-1) for McDonagh, Enda Hession for McHugh, Kevin McLoughlin for Towey, Darren Coen for Doherty, Conor Loftus for Boland.
Who was our MOTM against Tyrone? Pick your top three performers
- Ryan O'Donoghue (26%, 507 Votes)
- Matthew Ruane (25%, 490 Votes)
- Jordan Flynn (15%, 289 Votes)
- Aidan O'Shea (9%, 177 Votes)
- Lee Keegan (7%, 136 Votes)
- David McBrien (5%, 99 Votes)
- Jack Carney (3%, 63 Votes)
- Rory Byrne (2%, 30 Votes)
- Oisín Mullin (1%, 25 Votes)
- Kevin McLoughlin (1%, 23 Votes)
- Conor Loftus (1%, 21 Votes)
- Stephen Coen (1%, 21 Votes)
- Fergal Boland (1%, 18 Votes)
- Aiden Orme (1%, 14 Votes)
- Paul Towey (1%, 14 Votes)
- Donnacha McHugh (1%, 13 Votes)
- Fionn McDonagh (1%, 11 Votes)
- Darren Coen (1%, 11 Votes)
- Jason Doherty (0%, 5 Votes)
- Enda Hession (0%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,031