Tyrone bridged a thirteen year gap to win the Sam Maguire Cup for the fourth time in their history when they emerged worthy five point winners over Mayo in the final at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon.
Second half goals from substitute Cathal McShane and Darren McCurry proved to be crucial scores, the former’s fisted effort coming just five minutes after Ryan O’Donoghue had failed to convert a penalty for the Connaught champions. That first goal gave the Red Hands a tremendous boost and when they got the second one it was going to take a momentous effort from Mayo to bridge a seventy year gap from their last All Ireland senior success.
It brought to an end an unbelievable campaign for the new management team of Fearghal Logan and Brian Dooher, who, along with their entire backroom staff helped pull off a remarkable achievement. There is no doubt that Tyrone wre worthy winners on the day and the scenes at the final whistle demonstrated just what it meant to the Tyrone players and supporters alike. Not for the first time this season Tyrone had heroes all over the pitch with everyone involved doing their bit as the Red Hands once again collected the most prized possession in Irish Sport.
Mayo full forward Tommy Conroy opened the scoring inside fifteen seconds before O’Donoghue doubled their advantage in the 5th minute from a free. Tyrone opened their account two minutes later with a monster free from beyond the 45 metre line from keeper Niall Morgan and by the 10th minute they had their noses in front thanks to efforts from Padraig Hampsey and Darren McCurry, the team Captain’s point the score of the game with an outstanding effort with the outside of his boot from under the Hogan Stand. Moments later Mayo almost got in for a goal but Conor Loftus’s shot was brilliantly saved on the line by Niall Sludden.
O’Donoghue then levelled matters, the only one of his 0-8 tally that came from play. McCurry restored the advantage before an O’Donoghue free left it all square again. Kieran McGeary then weighed in with an outstanding point and after Paddy Durcan and the superb Sludden had traded points Mattie Donnelly dummied his marker before sending the ball over the bar to leave it a two point game. Moments later Tyrone had a great goal chance when a long delivery from Morgan was flicked on by Conor McKenna into the path of McCurry but his soccer style shot was saved by Robert Hennelly at the expense of a “45” which Morgan converted. O’Donoghue and McCurry swapped points from frees as did Stephen Coen and Sludden from play before O’Donoghue had the final say of the half as Tyrone led 0-10 to 0-8.
The second half was only five minutes old when Frank Burns was penalised for touching the ball inside the small box and the referee awarded a penalty, O’Donoghue’s spot kick clipping the post and going wide. Mayo keeper Hennelly did land a 55m free to close the gap to the minimum but that was as good as it got for the Connaught champions. In the 47th minute an inviting ball in from the left wing from the superb Conor Meyler saw Cathal McShane get on the end of it to punch to the net and all of a sudden Tyrone had some breathing space.
An O’Donoghue free closed the gap but at the second water break Tyrone still held a three point advantage. Kevin McLoughlin closed that to just two but sixty seconds later Tyrone struck for a brilliant second goal. Conn Kilpatrick took an unbelievable catch in midfield before playing the ball to Conor McKenna who burst through and wrong footed the Mayo defence with a show of eyes before offloading for McCurry to palm to the net from close range.
Lee Keegan got forward to score and O’Donoghue knocked over another point from a placed ball before a long delivery in from Michael McKernan saw Peyer Harte take an outstanding mark before splitting the posts. Conroy showed great pace to run through and score for Mayo but moments later substitute Darragh Canavan did likewise at the other end of the field to fist over. Fittingly McCurry had the final say of the game as he took his personal haul to 1-4 with a fisted point as a disappointed Mayo side ended with fourteen men after midfielder Matthew Ruane was straight red carded in injury time.
Tyrone – Niall Morgan, Michael McKernan, Ronan McNamee,
Padraig Hampsey, Frank Burns, Peter Harte, Kieran McGeary, Brian Kennedy, Conn Kilpatrick, Conor Meyler, Michael O’Neill, Niall Sludden, Darren McCurry, Mattie Donnelly, Conor McKenna. Subs – Cathal McShane for Donnelly, Darragh Canavan for O’Neill, Ben McDonnell for Kennedy, Paul Donaghy for McKenna, Tiernan McCann for Kilpatrick
Mayo – Robert Hennelly, Padraig O’Hora, Lee Keegan, Michael Plunkett,
Patrick Durcan, Stephen Coen, Oisin Mullen, Matthew Ruane, Conor Loftus,
Diarmuid O’Connor, Aidan O’Shea, Bryan Walsh, Kevin McLoughlin, Tommy Conroy, Ryan O’Donoghue. Subs – Enda Hession for Plunkett, Jordan Flynn for O’Hora, Darren Coen for Walsh, Aidan Orme for Loftus, James Carr for McLoughlin