What a difference a week makes. The Jekyll and Hyde side of Mayo football was never so evident as in their last three performances. Mayo put in a real gutsy performance against Tyrone in sun-drenched Healy Park Omagh last weekend to boost our chances of survival in the top flight. I wondered was it the same team that played Cavan the previous week. The football wasn't brilliant but this was all about the result. Mayo will probably still have to beat Donegal on Sunday to guarantee safety, as a confident Cavan will surely beat a demoralised Roscommon.
Refereeing again leaves a lot to be desired
This was certainly a game of inches and it took a majestic score from Kevin McLouglin in the 72nd minute to settle the affair. It was nip and tuck throughout as they found themselves level on seven occasions throughout. Referee Conor Lane is again under scrutiny for some bizarre decisions on top of letting some serious high tackles go without punishment. The black card issued to Niall Sludden, the Tyrone centre forward for a legitimate attempt to tackle Lee Keegan in the 15th minute was farcical, Sludden was just after scoring an inspirational score for his team. However Lane's failure to deal with or notice some clear striking by Tyrone players left me bewildered. Donie Vaughan took some blows to the head from Darren McCurry and Mattie Donnelly clearly struck Aidan O'Shea full on in the face after the final whistle which was dirty and uncalled for. Vaughan was obviously in a bad way as he clearly had to be helped from the field by Dr Sean Moffitt and Physio Martin McIntyre. Cillian O'Connor also got a close-line from Tyrone sub Henry Loughran late on and amazingly a free wasn't even given. O'Connor too looked unstable on his feet at the end.
Mayo weren't going to stand down last weekend
Mayo were well up for the game and the tempo was set from the start as Paddy Durcan raced forward for Mayo's first score. It was good to see the Mitchels flying wing-back in a more prominent attacking role with the shackles off. Shane Nally's strike in the 11th minute was poetry in motion as he belted the O'Neill’s with the outside of his left boot from 40 metres. He got a very similar score in Ballybofey last year against Donegal. The big play of the day came just before the game reached the 30th minute mark, with Tom Parsons latching on to a sublime lay off from Andy Moran to finish brilliantly to the bottom corner of Niall Morgan's net for amazingly Mayo’s first goal from open play in the league.
Tyrone will be kicking themselves as they let Parsons coast towards the goal and failed to monitor his run, the finish was top drawer all the same. There had been question marks over Mayo's midfield in the last number of weeks after they were over ran by Brian Fenton and Michael Darragh McCauley in Croke Park and Gearoid McKiernan last week against Cavan but Parsons took the criticism on the chin and responded in style with a herculean 80 minute shift. He is his own worst critic. Apart from his goal his work rate, tracking of runners and tackling were simply immense. His match saving tackle on Sean Cavanagh at the end rubber stamping his man of the match accolade. Parsons nailed Cavanagh (not an easy thing to do ) with a thunderous shoulder knocking him to the ground before engulfing him and making him over carry the ball. It was an inspirational piece of play that had the country talking.
Efficient Mayo wins the day
The second half was all about efficiency as Mayo scored only four points from five shots they had at the Tyrone goal. David Clarke again showing why he is the country's top keeper, had a very commanding afternoon marshalling his goal with confidence. There is no doubt Tyrone squandered some glorious chances to at least get a draw. Mayo find themselves priced at 8/15 to beat Donegal which will guarantee safety. The odds confuse me slightly, considering Donegal are in great form. It will be a nervy afternoon for every team. Mayo have a rank outside chance of making the final, while at the same time they can be relegated. Safety would suit me just fine. I'd advise anyone attending the game to bring a pocket radio or an eye on Twitter for the younger generation to keep up to speed with ongoings elsewhere. I'm staggered Cormac Reilly has been appointed to officiate the game. He obviously has skin like a rhino.
u21s bow out to classy Tribesmen
The Mayo U21s surrendered their Connacht and All-Ireland titles after losing to Galway in Tuam in the semi final by 2-13 to 1-10. The loss of full back Seamus Cunniffe through injury a telling factor. Cunniffe is a fine full back and losing a player of his quality at this grade is a real blow. Sometimes you have to put your hand up and admit you were beaten by a better team as Mayo were. Michael Solan and his back room team deserve huge credit for what they achieved with this team winning the All-Ireland last year despite been down and out in three of those championship games. Putting titles back to back is not an easy thing to do.