Tyrone v Mayo: Where it will be won and lost
Tyrone: N Morgan; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, J McMahon, P Harte; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McShane, N Sludden, R McNabb; C McAliskey, S Cavanagh, R O’Neill
Subs: M O’Neill, M Bradley, R Brennan, R Donnelly, P Hampsey, C McCann, D McCurry, K McGeary, P McNulty, J Monroe, B Tierney
THE same 15 as the Ulster final for Tyrone’s second visit to Croke Park for the year, having won the Division Two title back in April. Niall Morgan seems to have taken control of the number one jersey since the drawn game with Cavan. Peter Harte will again wear 7 and Ronan McNabb will wear 12, but they will more than likely switch again. Despite hopes that Joe McMahon was on his way back towards the squad, there is again no place for the experienced Omagh man on a bench that is not short of fresh legs, but is lacking in experience.
Mayo (probable): D Clarke; B Harrison, K Keane, C Barrett; L Keegan, C Boyle, P Durcan; S O’Shea, D Vaughan; K Higgins, A O’Shea, D O’Connor; K McLoughlin, A Moran, C O’Connor
DIARMUID O’Connor is named in the same side as was released ahead of the clash with Westmeath, from which he then had to be omitted through injury. His return from a dead leg is a massive fillip for Stephen Rochford and Tony McEntee. He will slot straight into the half-forward division, with Jason Doherty set to drop out despite his goal in the first half last weekend. Evan Regan should hold on to his spot but only if the Mayo management decide that Cathal Barrett is not fit for 70 minutes. His as a late substitute last Saturday after a four-month layoff gives rise to the hope that he will be able to play a more full part, but he is likely to be held in reserve. They look to have the stronger bench with Barry Moran, Conor O’Shea, Alan Dillon and Tom Parsons to impact.
TYRONE TACTICAL TAKE
THEY were forced display a lot of patience against Donegal, in both defence and attack, but it almost proved to be a flawed plan. They will, as always, sit in defensively and try to force turnovers in the 50 yards in front of their own goal, but Mickey Harte will seek for his side to rediscover the directness they had showed in their attack prior to the Ulster final. Getting into Croke Park should aid them in that regard, creating space into which they can break. They may concede the Mayo kickout and take their chances on the green shirts running into them, but it’s Tyrone’s kickouts that will determine this game. If Mayo go for the full press, as expected, then Tyrone may have to bring Sean Cavanagh to the middle and possibly look to Padraig McNulty.
MAYO TACTICAL TAKE
THERE are big decisions to be made by Stephen Rochford. If he gets them right, it could propel his side to another All-Ireland semi-final. The first is changing their sweeper. If they put Keith Higgins in as the free man, they will have a more robust tackling force to deal with Tyrone runners. Kevin McLoughlin attacked at will against Westmeath and any repeat of that would be almost certainly terminal if Tyrone force the turnovers they’d want. The second thing is Tyrone’s kickouts. Mayo have no option but to push up and force Niall Morgan long. That could create a physical advantage around midfield for the Connacht side. And the third thing is where best to play Aidan O’Shea. Tyrone’s struggles under the high ball were evident against Cavan. O’Shea has the presence to cause trouble.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
IT looked a couple of seasons back that injuries had taken their toll on Moran and that his career was on the wane, but he has rediscovered himself, much to the relief of his county. Mayo’s blistering 25 minutes before half-time against Westmeath, in which they hit 2-10, were all about the Ballaghaderreen man. His movement off the ball pulled the Westmeath defence all over the place as he won and laid off ball time after time after time. When the supply dried up after half-time he unsurprisingly faded out of the game and Tyrone will be well aware of that. If they allow the feeders to get him the ball, his intelligence and finishing ability could pose real problems.
Picture by Colm O'Reilly
Donal Vaughan v Mattie Donnelly
DONNELLY has carried on his Allstar winning form of last year and has once more been the man to quietly make Tyrone tick. His availability for the ball at all times is a sign of real leadership and he carries a scoring threat on the counter. Donal Vaughan played in midfield against Westmeath, partnership Seamus O’Shea, and it’s likely that Mayo will continue to play him in there in a bid to quell Donnelly’s influence. Vaughan’s attacking bursts were important to his side against Westmeath but he may have to curb those instincts slightly in favour of keeping an eye on Donnelly.
Picture by Seamus Loughran
TYRONE’S hopes were undermined by the horrid conditions against Kerry last year, but it seems they’re going to get lucky today. Sunshine and 23 degrees is the forecast for north Dublin – maybe a bit on the warm side for the running game.
WHO’S THE REF?
David Gough (Meath)
HAS been singled out for praise on two occasions this year by Tyrone boss Mickey Harte, arising from his performance in their drawn game with Cavan. Has an unfussy style and is happy to let the hits roll. Generally consistent on blowing players for overcarrying. A good performance here could push him towards a big date in September.
LAST CHAMPIONSHIP MEETING
2013 All-Ireland semi-final: Mayo 1-16 Tyrone 0-13
TYRONE were clinging hard to the glory days of the previous decade but their need for a rebuild was emphasised by a dominant Mayo display.
The Connacht champions came in as favourites but a superb ball-winning display from Stephen O’Neill carried the fight for Tyrone as they went in at half-time 0-7 to 0-6 ahead.
But it was the injury suffered by the Clann na nGael man after 26 minutes that signalled the beginning of the end, having already lost Peter Harte to a heavy knock in the opening minutes.
A controversial penalty given against Dermot Carlin when his foul appeared to be committed outside the large rectangle allowed the impressive Alan Freeman to drive Mayo in front.
They never looked like relinquishing the lead as they snuffed out Tyrone’s All-Ireland dream.
PATHS TO THE LAST 12
Ulster SFC quarter-final, May 22: Derry 0-12 Tyrone 3-14
Ulster SFC semi-final, June 19: Tyrone 0-16 Cavan 3-7
Ulster SFC semi-final replay, July 3: Tyrone 5-18 Cavan 2-17
Ulster SFC final, July 17: Tyrone 0-13 Donegal 0-11
Connacht SFC quarter-final, May 29: London 0-9 Mayo 2-16
Connacht SFC semi-final, June 20: Mayo 0-12 Galway 1-12
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 2B, July 9: Mayo 2-14 Fermanagh 1-12
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 3B, July 16: Mayo 2-17 Kildare 0-14
All-Ireland SFC qualifiers round 4B, July 30: Mayo 3-15 Westmeath 1-14
Tyrone (-1) 10/11
Draw (-1) 8/1
Mayo (+1) 11/10
Ronan O’Neill 7/1,
Cillian O’Connor 5/1,
No goalscorer 13/2