Tyrone provide the next test for us

Image: @MayoGAA

Right, then, time to look in a bit more detail at Sunday’s National Football League Round 5 clash with Tyrone. This one takes place at Healy Park in Omagh, where the man with the whistle will be Cork’s Conor Lane. The game throws in at 3pm on Sunday (really, it does – but don’t forget that the clocks go forward on Saturday night) and it’s being broadcast live on TG4.

We’ve come up against Mickey Harte’s men regularly enough in both League and championship in recent years. The dominant theme here – which doesn’t help our cause for Sunday but is a positive in the wider scheme of things – is that their record against us in the League is very good, while we’ve had the hex on them in the championship.

Our most recent clash was, of course, last year’s nerve-shredding All-Ireland quarter-final. We’d shown indifferent enough form in the championship up ’till then but we really stepped it up against the Ulster champions. They had the chance to snatch a draw or even win it themselves but we held on to win by a point, on a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-12. I was happy enough after that one (audio here).

We didn’t play them in the League last year, as they were operating out of Division Two then. We met them in each of the three previous years in the League, though, every time in Round 2 and on all three occasions the Red Hands came out on top.

In 2015, they beat us by 1-11 to 1-7 at MacHale Park. That was the day that Pat Holmes unguardedly admitted they’d have to look at Tyrone’s blanket defence approach “and see if we’re faced with it again that we deal with it and cope with it better”. The previous February up in Healy Park – the most recent time we played them in Omagh – we went under by two goals, on a 2-15 to 0-15 scoreline, a game in which Adam Gallagher excelled for us. Back at MacHale Park in 2013 they outplayed us all day but it looked like we were going to pull off an undeserved victory before they were awarded a hotly contested last-second penalty, which they converted to win by a point, by 1-12 to1-11.

Six months after that defeat, however, we turned the tables on them in the All-Ireland semi-final. They’d taken out Ulster champions Monaghan in the quarters – the match that was pivotal to the introduction of the black card, in which Seán Cavanagh rugby-tackled Conor McManus to the floor – but, despite losing Cillian O’Connor to injury early on we won handily enough, sealing back-to-back All-Ireland final appearances on a scoreline of 1-16 to 0-13.

Tyrone were back in Division Two in 2011 and 2012 so the most recent meeting between us before 2013 was in 2010. Although that year went from bad to worse for us, we were flying in the spring and went all the way to the League final. We beat Tyrone in a tasty encounter up in Omagh that February (once again a Round 2 encounter) by 1-12 to 1-11 and that was our most recent win in Healy Park.

Tyrone are faring okay this year on their return to the top tier. They got off to a flier in Round 1 with an 0-18 to 1-9 win over Roscommon and then were very unlucky only to draw with Dublin a week later. They led by five points midway through the second half in that one but a very dodgy red card and a few even dodgier frees awarded against them by Joe McQuillan helped Dublin to snatch an undeserved 1-7 to 0-10 draw and keep their unbeaten run going.

An 0-14 to 0-10 Round 4 win over Monaghan, followed by an 0-19 to 1-9 win over Cavan in their re-fixed Round 3 tie, sent them to the top of the table heading into last weekend. An 0-12 to 0-6 loss to Donegal in a bruising encounter at Ballybofey knocked them off their perch, however, and so they head into Sunday’s match in third place, though they’re still level with Dublin, Donegal and Monaghan on seven points.

What’s notable about Tyrone in this campaign is how well they’ve done at home. They’ve won all three matches they’ve played at Healy Park – including against Monaghan and Cavan, who both came away from MacHale Park with wins – and have only one reverse to date this spring, that match against Donegal last weekend. Unlike ourselves, they’ve really made the most of home advantage, making Sunday’s trip all the more daunting from our point of view.

Tyrone are clearly giving plenty of thought to the challenge we’re likely to pose on Sunday. Speaking to the Strabane Chronicle (here), Tyrone defender Ronan McNamee says “we’re like a wounded animal at the minute” and reckons it could be “a fiery enough encounter” with both sides keen to bag the two points on offer.

Mickey Harte, meanwhile, pays us a rather back-handed compliment in today’s Irish Independent (here) where he says we play the game in an off-the-cuff kind of way, an approach which he reckons gives us “a degree of unpredictability”. Compared to the often robotic approach his teams tend to adopt, I can see what he means and you can easily imagine Mickey, his brow all furrowed, poring over the tapes trying to figure out what the hell we’re up to. Given how we’re doing this spring, though, I’d say many on our side of the fence would be happy enough to see us play with a more defined structure on Sunday.

We’ll no doubt be naming our team tomorrow night. [Insert moan here about non-naming of subs and changes to published team made on the day].  The Mayo News reported this week (here) that Aidan and Seamus O’Shea, who both lined out for Breaffy at the weekend, are likely to be available for selection for Sunday, though whether or not either will be picked to start is another question.

In more negative news, that piece states that Diarmuid O’Connor has hamstring trouble again and so it seems likely that that he’ll play no further part in this League campaign. Jason Doherty, another man with hamstring trouble, is, however, on the mend and he hasn’t yet been ruled out for this weekend.

So, there you have it. Tyrone fare best against us in the League, play great at home and are wary of us with our devil-may-care approach to life. No wonder they’re 4/6 favourites with the bookies (though the handicap is just a single point). What do you reckon: have we chance in this one at all at all?

How will we do against Tyrone?

  • Lose (53%, 206 Votes)
  • Win (34%, 132 Votes)
  • Draw (13%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 389

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19 thoughts on “Tyrone provide the next test for us

  1. This is going to be a battle tester, I’m not really looking forward to this trip bul I’ll make it anyway. I’ve gone for a draw in the prediction column. Hard to see how we will win this on current form, maybe that’s when we are dangerous. Think against the rossies last year! No doubt the players and management are hurting from the stinging criticism fired at them from supporters, media and alumni players alike so with regard to all that, maybe we could get back on track

  2. I doubt the players or management are hurting because of the media or fans. These players have been through hell and are going through the motions at the moment it would appear. I think they will win this weekend because they have too. Win this one and take a breather until championship might be the plan? My thoughts, go out full throttle and win this one and use a very experimental team for donegal. Leave the league title to you know who, they have the fitness somehow or other to fly up and down the field all year long so let them at it. Mayo can only match those type teams once a year and that’s evident from the trimming we got 2 weeks ago. A league title could be a possibility if we had everything tuned in and running nicely, but Cavan showed us all that we are not nearly tuned.

  3. Tyrone are going to have the carving knives sharpened for us this Sunday. They are still hurting badly after THAT game last August…..no player more so than Sean Cavanagh. If we play like we have in the past two game we will ship a very heavy defeat. I’m sure our players and management will do all in their power to reverse the recent trend.

  4. Healy park is a tight pitch. I would select a big physical team. Donegal attacked centrally to midfield and then switched quickly left switch back to right or right switch back to left. Michael Murphy and Frank McGlynn at the heart of a lot of it. We dont play like that hence dominating in the air and being more poweful our only option.
    We wont match them in a cross country race.

  5. Possibly, if they show a bit of interest, joy, motivation, a bit of enthusiasm, endeavour, invention, a bit of bite and fight and a bit of sense of the occasion then it may come within their compass to maintain division 1 status this time out! These elements have all been in v short supply lately and this game will let us know if they have leached away for good or if it’s been all a false alarm.
    Best of luck to all on duty next day.

  6. I let my heart rule in voting this time and hopefully Mayo’s heart will rule on Sunday. My main worry is that we seem to be having a real problem at full back as that position does not suit Keith or any of our other potential “fillers in”.
    Especially with Sean Cavanagh likely to be Tyrone’s No 14. Any chance, I wonder, of Aiden O’Shea being fit enough to track Sean on Sunday?

  7. Given the way we played against Dublin and the response then against Cavan when everyone expected a backlash it is not very generous to say the least a 6/4 odds on us. Frankly I can’t see us getting anywhere near Tyrone at the moment. I think they’re the best team in the country at the minute and were awfully unlucky to only draw with Dublin earlier. Whereas we seem to be in freefall as the League progresses.

    Plus they will be expecting somewhat of a backlash themselves after the trimming they were handed in Ballybofey. Sadly my vote is another day of pain for this group. The only thing that anyone will take from this game is the experience that guys get from handling the Tyrone sledging on Sunday.

  8. Tyrone will be vying for us like Dublin were. They can’t stand us and are always so sore after championship losses to us – well the last two anyway. I really do hope we beat them but to be honest my heart doesn’t get hurt in the league. Do you think this team really really care about the league either?! I don’t after being at 10 all Irelands and never winning. Why would the league matter a sh– to the players?! Don’t forget they were all once supporters like us and experienced days in our shoes too. Only one thing they want. It’s March. They have more to do than win the league or perform in it, To be honest same thing in all the papers and here as this time last year. No cohesion, no plan, team can take no more and finished this time etc etc. Everything horrible has been said about these lads already for years. Same shit all the time. Why would it bother them now?! Yes there was trouble in the camp last year and they still got to October. Yes there still is trouble but prob won’t stop them again. And I think they are also beyond being hurt by negative supporters at this stage. These are tough lads. They have put up with the creepy eerie deathly silence from their support for years and still go out and get to the last competitive game of the year. They are stronger than we know. So for me I won’t be writing them off until it happens if it happens.

  9. Also unless top players start leaving the panel this team don’t think they are finished.

  10. Agreed, Sinead. The togetherness of this panel has been remarkable and until they quit why should we supporters quit? As far as I can recall Tom Cunniffe has been the only panellist to quit voluntarily since 2011. OK, some such as Trev Mortimer and Trev Howley went in search of employment when our economy was at rock bottom while some such as Ronan McGarritty and Peadar Gardiner reached the natural end of their Mayo careers. Before somebody throws up the name of Conor Mort, he quit in a huff which I would not classify as a “voluntary ” early retirement.

  11. Absolutely Sinead spot on. Stop trying to build up a league in March as the next AI final. Agree they are hurting over the Championship loss to us, but it’s the 2013 loss. They haven’t got that one yet not to mention the more recent ones. Expect war paint and feather flying on Sunday what ever the outcome. Expect Mayo to be still playing Div1 football by the second of April by some means.

  12. Lot of talk about quitting here! Will tell quit wit it! There’s no such thing as quitting anything when it comes to Mayo playing the game that they and we were all born and bred to play. Sometimes you might wish for a different form of diversion for the want of a better term but the true nature of the thing forever demands an unfailing unavoidable and instinctive devotion. If you are green and red it is indelible and there is no escape!

  13. We have the following teams involved in games this weekend:

    Minors V Galway
    U21s V Galway
    Seniors V Tyrone
    Ladies V Dublin

    The very best of luck to all who are involved with these teams who represent our great county this weekend. We are Mayo and we are all in this together!

  14. I see we are down to a measly 33% predicting a win – same proportion as before the Kerry game 🙂

  15. GAA banter page saying Aido and Seamus NOT available for Sunday, ????? also saying Liam Irwin left panel. Anyone any info on this ???

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