Tyrone thrashed at home by Mayo to stay at bottom of Allianz Football League
Allianz Football League Division one, round two: Tyrone 0-10 Mayo 2-13
HOME comforts? Tyrone are in a very uncomfortable position, sitting at the bottom of Allianz Football League Division One after suffering a spanking in their own backyard by Mayo.
It's a case of red, er, faces at the moment, rather than Red Hands, with the hosts well-beaten by the new-look visitors, albeit that they have their previous boss James Horan back in charge.
Tyrone recorded the first two and last two scores of this match, so it's clear they were largely blown away in between those moments, by 2-13 to six points.
Mayo netted through veteran defender Keith Higgins (although he spent much of this match attacking and forward debutant Fionn McDonagh, who finished with 1-3, all from play.
That classic blend of youth and experience worked wonderfully for Mayo, with two more newcomers, Michael Plunkett and Cian Tracey, also impressing in defence and attack respectively, while the established Aidan O'Shea, Andy Moran, and Jason Doherty were all influential up front.
There was very little for Tyrone to be positive about. Although they did begin brightly, once more they struggled for scores, getting only point between the fifth and the 43rd minutes. In that same time-frame Mayo registered 1-9, should have had at least one more goal – and that was the match done and dusted.
With illness ruling out Cathal McShane, Tyrone replaced him with Frank Burns, but he played around the middle, with Peter Harte again at full-forward. The Errigal Ciaran man worked hard, but was closely followed around by Stephen Coen. Harte did kick a point under pressure but, when he found some space, sent a shot short into the keeper's gloves.
Other Red Hands/ boots also sent a series of efforts short before the break, and more chances wide in the second period, leading manager Mickey Harte to rue their inaccuracy once again:
"Probably after the first eight or 10 minutes, when I thought we were playing some decent football, we again missed scores that would have made a big difference.
“The number that dropped into the keeper's hand was very soul-destroying because a lot of work goes in to creating those chances - and then you're not getting anything for them.
“Then missing a free to put two points in it and then they go up the field and get a goal almost directly from that, that's soul-destroying too.”
Darren McCurry, who'd notched 2-4 here five years ago, the last time the home side won a League meeting between these counties, was the culprit for that failure from a free on the half-hour mark.
However, Mayo could already have been much further ahead than their 0-6 to 0-3 lead, with full-forward Brian Reape having twice been denied by Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan in one-on-one situations.
Although Mattie Donnelly was dropped back into defence, tasked with trying to contain Aidan O'Shea, Mayo were looking dangerous almost every time they went forward.
They got the goal their attacking brio merited when three of their old stagers showed that class remains permanent, Lee Keegan finding Moran who laid the ball back for Higgins, and he jinked delightfully before lashing a fierce shot to the net.
Higgins wasn't tracked back, and was again involved in the last score of the first period, with newbies Plunkett and McDonagh combining for the latter to score – although Reape was unmarked on the edge of the square.
The Mayo number 14's marker, Hugh Pat McGeary paid the penalty, replaced for the second half by Padraig Hampsey, while midfielder Declan McClure was also taken off after some wayward shooting and kick-passing, with Conan Grugan sent on.
It was a measure of Tyrone's desperation that Harte had made four of his five available substitutions by the 43rd minute, culminating in Conall McCann coming on for McCurry even though the Edendork man had ended their lengthy scoring drought from an advanced mark.
In contrast, Mayo only made one personnel change before the 67th minute, with their starting side continuing to click.
Tyrone did at least compete much more evenly after their alterations, but never looked like threatening a serious comeback.
Any faint hopes of a stunning recovery were snuffed out just before the hour mark when O'Shea picked out McDonagh and he skipped through before lashing in a low left-footed goal.
Tyrone keeper Niall Morgan then scored a superb point from play but this game trickled out to a damp conclusion as the rain poured down.
Harte could have no complaints and offered no excuses afterwards, admitting: “Overall they played with great energy and they played great football. We found them very hard to handle and sometimes you have to hold your hand up and say we were beaten by a much better team.”
Tyrone's tally over two games now is only 0-17, just seven of those from play, but arguably of greater concern is what the opposition have scored - and what they could have scored.
"They scored enough to do them anyway,” said Harte. “They could have got more scores and that's a reality we have to deal with. It's very good for them at this moment in time and not so good for us.”
He smiled at the suggestion that next weekend's trip to Roscommon is a ‘really, really must-win' match:
“It was always going to be a huge game for us anyway, regardless, because it's a home game for them and people are supposed to do well at home [laughs].
“I think we should play our ‘home' games in Castlebar against Mayo and they can play theirs here, because we seem to do better when we're away at each other's venue.
“But that's where it's at. Every game is so important in Division One because you really are going to be in the relegation zone or pointing towards the top of the table, depending on how you do.”
If the Red Hands don't win in Roscommon then there's only one way they'll be thinking about going.
Tyrone: N Morgan (0-1); M McKernan, R McNamee, HP McGeary; T McCann, R Brennan F Burns; B Kennedy, D McClure; M Donnelly (0-1 free), N Sludden, K McGeary; D McCurry (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 mark), P Harte (0-3, 0-1 free), L Brennan (0-2, 0-1 mark).
Substitutes: C Grugan (0-1) for McClure (h-t); P Hampsey for HP McGeary (h-t); K Coney for Burns (40); C McCann for McCurry (43); C Meyler for K McGeary (60).
Yellow cards: K McGeary (16); Kennedy (44).
Black card: McKernan (61-71).
Mayo: R Hennelly (0-2, 0-1 ‘45', 0-1 free); S Coen, B Harrison, K Higgins (1-0); L Keegan, M Plunkett, P Durcan (0-1); D O'Connor, D Vaughan; F McDonagh (1-3), A O'Shea, C Tracey (0-2); A Moran (0-2, 0-1 mark), B Reape, J Doherty (0-3, 0-1 free).
Substitutes: C Diskin for Reape (49); K McLaughlin for Moran (67); D Drake for Coen (70); M Ruane for Tracey (73).
Yellow card: Plunkett (2).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).