OUT OF REACH Mayo’s Ger Cafferkey tries to gather possession and hold off Tyrone’s Darren McCurry during Sunday’s NFL match.Pic: Sportsfile
McCurry too hot to handle
Goals see Mayo crash to second away defeat
IT’S too early for gloomy forecasts about the health of Mayo football after losing their opening two games of the league. But their five-point loss to Tyrone at Omagh on Sunday did little to inspire confidence that they have found the key to unlock the door to holy grail.
Having squandered enough chances in the opening quarter to build a comfortable lead, their depleted side fell victim to the greater all-round agility and scoring power of Tyrone. And although they fought back bravely in the second half to wipe away most of their six-point deficit, their inability to keep pace with the swift-moving home side was staggeringly evident.
Tyrone were faster, built moves methodically from defence and had up front what Mayo continue to lack – forwards with a keen sense of direction. No one fitting the standard of accuracy from play that Mattie Donnelly and Darren McCurry brought to their game.
Mayo started as they had done against Kildare, sweeping through the Tyrone defence with more ease that one expected. But their finishing left a lot to be desired.
Cathal Carolan had their opening point in less than a minute after good work by Shane McHale and Kevin McLoughlin ... but Tyrone were let off lightly with a point.
A similar chance of a goal fell to David Drake (who started instead of the selected Brendan Harrison), and there were other missed opportunities in the opening 15 minutes during which Keith Higgins had Mayo’s second point.
But the danger which McCurry and Donnelly posed were evident in their equalising points. And before long the tormented Mayo defence had yielded 1-4 without reply.
The goal in the 22nd minute could have come from any one of three forwards, but it was corner forward McCurry who finished the ball to the net after the way was cleared by their excellent centre back Peter Harte.
Aidan O’Shea and Jason Gibbons won some good ball at midfield and Gibbons in particular delivered well. And when Adam Gallagher worked hard for Mayo’s third point, McLoughlin scored with his right foot from an angle, and the hard-working Lee Keegan drilled over another, all from distance, you began to feel that the game was turning back in Mayo’s direction.
But they had no answer to the elaborate build-up of the home side out of defence, or to their fleetness, their swarming tactics, or the demoralising precision of Donnelly.
So by half time they found themselves trailing by 1-9 to 0-6 and a desperate situation called for desperate measures. James Horan brought Michael Conroy in for Diarmuid O’Connor (who had started instead of the selected Darren Coen) and Brian Gallagher for Carolan. Before long Stephen Coen replaced Kevin Keane and Harrison the injured Boyle.
Nothing changed much for a while except that Tyrone went seven points ahead. And then, prompted by Adam Gallagher, Mayo’s most impressive forward, they rallied. The Mayo Gaels youngster with heart to burn fired over three points, two from frees, McLoughlin one more and Gallagher a further two.
It was a brave rally, but unsustained. They didn’t have the stamina to keep up with Tyrone. By comparison, they were slow and uninspired. Keegan was the best of the backs and Shane McHale and David Drake worked hard to bat off the surges from Tyrone.
Subs Stephen Coen and Brendan Harrison offered some stability to the defence. They managed to keep Donnelly quiet. But no sooner was one tap turned off than another gushed out with Ciaran McGinley, goalkeeper Niall Morgan and Ronan O’Neill rattling off a succession of points.
And then McCurry capped it off with his second goal that had its origins in Mayo’s reluctance to pounce on a loose ball at midfield when they had Tyrone outnumbered.
N Morgan (0-1, 1f); A McCrory, C Clarke, B Tierney; C McGinley (0-2), P Harte (0-1), T McCann; C Cavanagh, C Grugan; E McKenna, S McGuigan, P Hughes; D McCurry (2-4, 0-1f), M Donnelly (0-6), R O’Neill (0-1).
Subs used: C McAliskey (0-1) for Hughes; S Cavanagh for McGuigan; M Donnelly for McKenna; D Carlin for Tierney; P McNeice for McCurry.
R Hennelly; K Keane, G Cafferkey, C Boyle; L Keegan (0-1), S McHale, D Drake; A O’Shea, J Gibbons; C Carolan (0-1), K Higgins (0-1), A Gallagher (0-9, 6f); K McLoughlin (0-2), A Moran (0-1), D O’Connor.
Subs used: B Gallagher (0-1) for Carolan; M Conroy for O’Connor; B Harrison for Boyle; S Coen for Keane; J Doherty for Cafferkey; A Freeman for Keegan.
Referee: P Hughes (Armagh)