Tuesday, 12 February 2013 13:31
Lee Keegan, Mayo, in action against Ronan McNamee, left, and Joe McMahon, Tyrone, in Sunday's clash at McHale ParkTyrone 1-12 Mayo 1-11 …… After the arm wrestling that passed as a contest in round one of the national football league against Kerry last week, this was more of a bare knuckle street fight at Elvery’s McHale Park, Castlebar on Sunday when the reality of how tough it is going to be to survive in this division finally dawned on Mayo.
Tyrone and Mayo have tended to bring the best and worst out of each other and this game lived up to the prematch billing of a tough, uncompromising battle before a crowd of 6,500 in good conditions.
Despite the controversial ending to this game, which saw Tyrone snatch Mayo’s handbag with a late, late penalty, the statistics will confirm that Mayo played in snatches, and while they will have serious issues over the manner in which their defeat came about, they will have few complaints about the result, having put in a performance which did not merit a victory.
The reality now is Mayo have tumbled from being on top of the table last week to mid-division and with their next game away to unbeaten Dublin on March 2, survival now will be the name of the game, with some very tough opposition down the road.
However, what will be most disappointing from Mayo’s perspective is their continual poor use of possession. They did win an amount of ball thanks mainly to the high fielding of Aiden O’Shea, who ran himself into the ground, his brother Seamus also working hard but needing to be withdrawn having picked up a yellow card in the first half.
His replacement, Barry Moran, put in a big shift but Mayo’s problems were not at midfield.
The attack failed badly.
Players like Richie Feeney, Michael Conroy, Jason Doherty and Lee Keegan worked hard, but so many players ran into Tyrone traffic and were smothered up or dispossessed as the visitors hunted in packs and were much faster in moving the ball to their forward division, an area Mayo failed abysmally in.
Added to that, Mickey Harte used his bench judiciously, bringing in a number of substitutes who made an impact on the game.
Mayo turned to Alan Dillon and Donal Vaughan late in the game, the latter making a hasty point attempt which might have earned Mayo draw but it drifted just wide of the post.
Mayo had started this game well and were on top for the opening 15 minutes as Jason Doherty (free) and Lee Keegan, with a gem on his left boot, posted early points before Peter Harte got Tyrone off the mark on 13 minutes.