ALL IRELAND SFC QUARTER-FINAL MAYO 0-16 TYRONE 1-9
IN these pages last week, David Brady promised us all something. Whatever way this All Ireland series ended for Mayo, this team would not be criticised. He's right about that. No longer can their desire and commitment be questioned, nor their flair nor forwards either. Two months after finishing a great Galway team, they've now ended the season of one that surely will be one day. Not just that, they've possibly ended the career of a great player as well in Peter Canavan.
Tyrone, it has to be said, didn't have fortune on their side. Brian McGuigan was unable to start due to a knee injury sustained in last week's win over Laois. They had four shots in the second half alone that came off the upright. But as a Mr Cashman once said in these pages, if those shots were good enough, they'd have been scores.
Though Ger Cavlan demonstrated to his coach that his work rate can complement his talent, and Stephen O'Neill underlined once again just why he was the first of this crop to win an All Star, the best side won.
David Brady, not Sean Cavanagh, was the midfielder bombing over points.
Mayo, not Tyrone, were the ones who defended with intensity. And John Maughan, not Mickey Harte, was the one who got everything right on the line.
They never trailed and they never panicked either. Their first two attempts at the posts were both waved wide yet they remained impressively unaffected. A quick free put Trevor Mortimer through on goal but he rightly elected to take the safe option by tapping it over the bar.
Then a quick sideline ball from Ciaran McDonald found itself to Brady who landed over with the outside of his right boot Monster Point Number One. From that moment on, you sensed these bunch of players were going to ensure it was Mayo's day.
McDonald in particular did. Six of their next scores then went through him. But all over the field Mayo were buzzing. No doubt influenced by the sideline influence of fellow hoopster Liam McHale, basketball star Ronan McGarrity had been detailed to make this effectively a 14-versus-14 game by going man-to-man with Cavanagh. While he didn't always get his way ? it was Cavanagh who won the free for Mulligan which brought it back to 0-5 to 0-3 ? he had helped set the tone.
Mickey Harte knew something had to done and so it was. On the 22nd minute he decided it was time to revert to playing six men up, which led to the withdrawal of Shane Sweeney. More, he felt it was time for the introduction of Peter Canavan, which was the cue for a massive roar.
An even bigger one went up two minutes later, though.
The vigilant Paddy Russell spotted Joe McMahon pulling a jersey, which awarded Mayo a free just outside the 45metre line. Anyone else would either have put it on the ground or elected to pick out a colleague. McDonald just hopped the ball twice, sliced it over the bar with the outside of his left boot before turning to wave to the Mayo crowd.
Within a minute, though, the other genius on the field made his presence known, as Canavan pounced on a loose ball to dish back to O'Neill who in turn brought it back to 0-7 to 0-4.
Moments later, the same player had a chance to level it all. A sweeping move saw Kevin Hughes put him through on goal but O'Neill's attempted lob went over Peter Burke's bar.
Owen Mulligan had another chance to eat into Mayo's advantage after a Burke kickout landed straight to him.
He had several chances to take his point but declined which would have been fine enough if his run towards Burke's goal paid off. Instead he lost control off the ball just before he intended to lay it off to Canavan. Even when a Cavlan point from range on the stroke of half-time left it at 0-9 to 0-7, the Mulligan incident told a story of this game.
And yet, with 23 minutes to go, they were level. Shortly after Brady knocked over Monster Point Number Two and a splendid piece of interplay ended with a fisted Conor Mortimer point, Tyrone replied with a stunning goal. Once again it was Cavlan who got on the ball before dishing off to O'Neill who blasted into Peter Burke's top left-hand corner.
That levelled the scores at 0-12 to 1-9. In truth, Tyrone should have been the ones to move ahead. Mulligan had a close-in free, while several colleagues of his had chances from play. But Mulligan missed, while the other efforts invariably landed straight into Burke's arms.
Tyrone didn't score again.
Indeed, the next score was a fisted point from Trevor Mortimer on the 53rd minute.
And after that, it was all Mayo, as they repeatedly broke out strongly with the ball from midfield. With 11 minutes to go, the impressive Alan Dillon stretched the lead to two with another longrange free out on the left wing. Then, came Monster Point Number Three from Brady. McDonald missed a few chances to get the insurance score but with a minute to go he initiated a move that led to it ? another Dillon free.
Brady also promised us last week something he told us years ago. He will win his All Ireland. Could be this year judging by this.
TYRONE P McConnell; R McMenamin, C Gormley, M McGee; J McMahon, S Sweeney, P Jordan, C Gourley; K Hughes, S Cavanagh; B Dooher, G Cavlan (0-1), S O'Neill (1-3); M Harte (0-1, free), O Mulligan (0-3, all frees); Subs D Carlin for Gormley, 17 mins; P Canavan (0-1) for Sweeney, 23 mins; B McGuigan for Harte, 54 mins; C McCullagh for Gourley, 63 mins
MAYO P Burke; C Moran, D Heaney, G Ruane; P Gardiner, J Nallen, F Costello; D Brady (03), R McGarrity (0-1); J Gill, K McDonald (0-1, free), A Dillon (0-6, 4 frees); C Mortimer (0-3, 1 free), T Mortimer (0-2), B Maloney Subs P Kelly for Costello, 34 mins; A Moran for C Mortimer, 61 mins; A O'Malley for Maloney, 67 mins Referee P Russell (Tipperary)