Tyrone remained on course for a third All-Ireland semi-final appearance on the spin when they maintained their dominance over Roscommon in round one of the Super 8s at Dr Hyde Park.
A win over Cork next Saturday night in Croke Park is virtually certain to secure Mickey Harte’s side a place in the last four regardless of the result of their final round tie against All-Ireland champions Dublin in three weeks’ time.
Meanwhile, Roscommon will have to beat Dublin next weekend in Croke Park in order to keep their All-Ireland ambitions alive. Their new-found status as Connacht champions failed to change their fortunes against the Ulstermen.
This was their fourth championship loss to Tyrone and though it was a significant improvement on last year’s 18-point hammering in the corresponding first round fixture it was the same end result.
They battled gallantly particularly in the first half and two brilliant saves from Niall Morgan denied them goals. An early Diarmuid Murtagh point in the second half left them trailing by just a point but from there to the finish Tyrone – picked up six bookings – dominated with a five unanswered points between the 49 and 61 minutes proving decisive.
Having been cleared by the GAA’s Central Hearing Committee, Peter Harte lined out for Tyrone’s seventh championship game of the summer. Tyrone went defensive from the throw-in pulling 14 men behind the ball. Only Cathal McShane stayed up and at times he was marked by the entire Roscommon full-back line.
Roscommon found it virtually impossible to penetrate Tyrone’s line of defenders strung across their 45m line in the early exchanges. When they visitors broke they so at speed and by the tenth minute they were 0-3 to 0-1 ahead.
Tyrone’s covering work and tackling deep in their own defence was superb with a Rory Brennan hit on Shane Killoran, who was bearing down on goal was as spectacular as it was effective. But at times they were cynical as well Brennan halting Diarmuid Murtagh through run with a professional foul in the 22 minute.
Roscommon opted for speed and safety with their re-starts with Darren O’Malley going short with his first six re-starts which which were all collective by team mates.
Gradually they started to make inroads into Tyrone’s massed defence with Enda Smith leading the line superbly.
With Tyrone leading 0-4 to 0-2, Niall Morgan his side with a point blank save from Cathal Cregg and to compound Roscommon’s woes Diarmuid Murtagh fly-kicked point from the rebound was ruled out with the referee awarding a free out.
Roscommon couldn’t cope with Tyrone centre forward Niall Sludden who was the fulcrum for much of their first half attacks – apart from providing the assists for their first two points he also kicked three points.
Though it was 6-3 at the midway point of the first half Roscommon clawed their back back into the game with Smith doing most of the damage. Substitute Brian Stack – who replaced Hubert Darcy after 26 minutes – made it a one point game in the 31 minute.
While Cathal McShane’s third pointed free extended Tyrone to two (0-8; 0-6) which they held until the break.
But Niall Morgan again rescued his side with a point blank save from Enda Smith from an acute angle after Roscommon had penetrated the left flank of the Tyrone defence yet again.
As half time approached the exchanged became decidedly ragged. Mickey Harte pulled Brian Kennedy and Hugh Pat McGeary ashore after they had been booked – the latter also struggling to contain Enda Smith. But their replacements Ben McDonnell and Kieran McGeary were both yellow carded in injury time.
Apart from the two goal chances Roscommon were also left two rue two missed frees from Conor Cox though at the other end Tyrone dropped three shots short and also hit the upright.
The Rossies had the advantage of the breeze in the second half and began in a postive fashion with a Diarmuid Murtagh point after 19 seconds. Tyrone replied with a brace from McShane (free) and Darren McCurry.
Colm Cavanagh became the fifth Tyrone player to be booked as Roscommon hit back with a pointed free from Conor Cox as the level of fouling increased but a Murtagh free and a great point from Shane Killoran left it a one point game after 45 minutes.
But gradually Tyrone turned the screw with Peter Harte – who was denied a goal by the crossbar – and Mattie Donnelly making a decidedly bigger impact as Roscommon tired slightly. Five unanswered points between the 49 and 61 mintues put them in control (0-16; 0-10) and left Roscommon needing a goal.
Tyrone were now operating at their ruthless best soaking up the pressure and playing keep ball which did enough to silence the Roscommon fans in the attendance of 14,465.
There was an inevitably about the contest from there to the finish as the visitors controlled the exchanges and both managers ran their benches. The failure of Roscommon to score from play from the 46 minute until the third minute of injury time – when a fisted effort from substitute Andrew Glennon skimmed the top of the crossbar – summed up the one-sided nature of the second half.
Scorers: Tyrone: C McShane 0-8 (5f), N Sludden 0-3, M Donnelly 0-2, B Kennedy, F Burns, D McCurry, P Harte, 0-1 each. Roscommon: D Murtagh 0-4 (3f), C Cox 0-2 (1f), E Smith, C Cox, N Daly, B Stack, S Killoran 0-1, D O’Malley (1f), A Glennon 0-1 each.
Tyrone: N Morgan; HP McGeary, R McNamee, R Brennan; M Cassidy, F Burns, M McKernan; C Cavanagh, B Kennedy; M Donnelly, N Sludden, P Harte; D McCurry, C McShane, C Meyler. Subs: B McDonnell for Kennedy (29), K McGeary for HP McGeary (30), P Hampsey for Cassidy (50), R Donnelly for McDonnell (50), C McAliskey for Sludden (62), A McCrory for Meyler (70 + 2)
Roscommon: D O’Malley, D Murray, S Mullooly, C Daly; N Daly, C Hussey, R Daly; T O’Rourke, S Killoran; H Darcy, C Cregg, N Kilroy; D Murtagh, C Cox, E Smith. Subs: B Stack for Darcy 26m, C Compton for Hussey 48m; D Smith for Cregg 50m, F Cregg for Killoran (62), A Glennon for Cox (62)
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)
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