Tyrone are now gearing themselves up for a relegation play off against either Fermanagh or Longford after the Red Hands suffered an eight point defeat on their travels to Roscommon on Sunday.
Such are the fine margins of the Division 3A campaign that Kevin Ryan’s men could have qualified for the League final if they had managed to inflict a first reversal of the league on the unbeaten Rossies. However, despite another assured display of scoring from Damian Casey (1-7) their efforts came up short and, with Monaghan defeating Warwickshire, Tyrone are now waiting on the outcome of the Division 3B League final between Fermanagh and Longford to see who will stand in their way of possible 3A survival in two weeks’ time.
Gerard Gilmore and Conor Grogan edged Tyrone into an early lead after Jerry Fallon had registered the opening point of the contest in Athleague before the Rossies took over with a 13th minute goal from full forward Ronan O’Meara. That goal handed the hosts a 1-3 to 0-3 lead before Fallon traded points with Casey and Gilmore. Unfortunately for the O’Neill men Gilmore was to supply the visitor’s final point of the half on 20 minutes. That score left the score board reading 1-5 to 0-6 before Tipperary native O’Meara bagged a second major on 21 minutes to send Justin Campbell’s men on their way.
Further points from Adrian Murphy, Michael Kelly and midfielder Thomas Seale helped Roscommon to a comfortable 2-8 to 0-6 half time and, when Tyrone lost Chris Cross to a second yellow card just four minutes into the second half it was game over.
Casey did raise their hopes when he flashed a close range free to the net for a 1-7 to 2-9 deficit, but within 30 seconds Murphy goaled at the other end of the field to end any chance of an upset.
Substitute Naos Connaughton grabbed a fourth goal and while Casey, Paddy McKillion, Peadar Daly and Ciaran McNulty hoisted over further Tyrone points they were unable to trim the gap back sufficiently.
The result saw Roscommon topping the table with maximum points from five outings and will see them facing Monaghan for the Division 3B League silverware this weekend in Ballyshannon. Warwickshire are already relegated while Tyrone’s fate will rest on the outcome of that upcoming play off against the Division 3B hopefuls.