Tyrone's Darragh Canavan scoring a point despite the attentions of Mayo’s Diarmuid Duffy and Fergal Boland during the game at Healy Park, Omagh. [Inpho/Lorcan Doherty]

Sub McCurry stars for Tyrone

Tyrone 1-15;  Mayo 1-11

This was the proverbial game of two halves with visitors to Healy Park Mayo dominating the first period before Tyrone got their act together and blitzed the Connacht men for the final 35 minutes.

This only became possible thanks to half-time sub Darren McCurry who produced an epic performance with eight points to his credit for his half day’s work. Working in tandem with Darragh Canavan whose 47th minute goal recharged Tyrone’s battery, he led Mayo on a merry dance with his ability to pick off scores and gain and use possession intelligently.

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Cillian O’Connor, a late replacement for the dropped Aidan O’Shea, did little from place but his penalty goal and points from frees had set Mayo up as if they were good enough to kick on and take the Red Hand scalp in their own backyard.

Mayo led by 1-4 to 0-4 at the  short whistle and were full value for the way they had dominated possession and made it look like there would be a long road back for Tyrone.

However, with McCurry now on the grass alongside Canavan, the dynamic of the game changed immediately as both beat their men to score a point each within two minutes of the restart.

That should have set alarm bells ringing for Kevin McStay, the Mayo manager, who needed to use a sweeper if not two to prevent the direct low ball into the new full forward pairing.

Instead the hunted from the first half became the hunters with a renewed press on Mayo kickouts yielding dividends and seriously reducing their possession percentage for the rest of the game.

Pressing the Mayo kick-out, Tyrone were a transformed side, and leveled matters through substitute McCurry before they sliced through the visiting defense for Peter Harte to drill a low shot just wide.

Canavan’s goal put his side three points clear on the scoreboard and it was McCurry, the former All Star, who set up the score with his sorcery.

Before you knew it, the diminutive left footer had tacked on another brace of white flags and suddenly from being three points down, the home side now was six in front.

McStay sought a forward  savor of his own by sending in Ryan O'Donoghue to his attack and immediately he showed great hunger and an ability to ferret out a score. Trouble was, Tyrone was now monopolizing possession and what he saw of the ball was a case of too little coming too late.

Fergal Boland kicked a mighty score for the men in green and red but  McCurry wasn’t yet done and landed a final point to put the matter beyond doubt.

Tyrone: N Morgan; C Devlin, P Hampsey, A Clarke; M McKernan, C Quinn, N Devlin; B Kennedy, C Donnelly; C Daly, C Kilpatrick, P Harte (0-2f): J Oguz, D Canavan (1-4, 0-1f), S O’Donnell (0-1) Subs: D McCurry (0-8, 0-6f) Donnelly (ht), B Cullen for McKernan (ht), K McGeary for O’Donnell (67), R Canavan for D Canavan (76).

Mayo: R Hennelly (0-1f); J Coyne, R Brickenden (0-1), S Callinan; M Plunkett, S Coen (0-1), E Hession; D O’Connor, M Ruane; D Duffy, F Boland (0-2), J Flynn; C O’Connor (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-2f), T Conroy, C McStay (0-1) Subs: J Carney for D O’Connor (5), R O’Donoghue (0-2) for McStay (48), E McLoughlin for Plunkett (48), B Tuohy (0-1) for Ruane (57) D McHale for Duffy (62).

Ref: B Cawley (Kildare).

Dublin 3-18; Kerry 1-14

He was the star turn the previous week against Roscommon in Croke Park and with a more formidable foe in Kerry providing the opposition this time around, Con O’Callaghan produced an even better performance by hitting a hat-trick of goals to send the Kingdom packing after this 10-point defeat.

On top of that he added four points to produce one of the great individual league performances ever seen at headquarters in the past 50 years.

Yes, on the face of it, this was about two league points. Dublin secured their second set in successive weeks after two close one-point defeats to Monaghan and Mayo. 

In retrospect though, maybe this win was a case of making a statement about summer championship fare when the last two winners of the Sam Maguire will be seeking to add another title to their long list of victories.

A brace of green flags by the Cuala man in the first half, one from a spot kick, saw Dublin nine points to the good at the interval and out of sight as far as this game being a contest was concerned.

Kerry’s pride saw them reduce the 2-11 to 0-8 deficit with three quick second half points but Dublin then took over again with O’Callaghan nabbing his third goal to kill the game as a contest.

There is no doubt that following a home loss to Derry and now this spanking by the Dubs that Kingdom boss Jack O’Connor will come under pressure from the demanding green and gold supporters both on local radio and in the local newspaper.

It won’t get any easier for the manager in his third term at the helm as his next task is to see if he can derail high-riding Tyrone when they visit Killarney next weekend.

Dublin’s own credentials will also be tested when they travel north to face the form-team of the moment in Derry. Should they win, they will be on six points and in second place behind Derry who already have eight points following their away victory over Galway on Sunday.

Dublin: D O’Hanlon; S MacMahon, T Clancy, E Murchan; C Murphy, J Small, L Gannon (0-1); B Fenton (0-1), P Ó Cofaigh Byrne; R McGarry (0-1), S Bugler (0-3), C Kilkenny (0-3, 0-1m); P Small (0-3), C O’Callaghan (3-4, 1-0p, 0-2f), N Scully (0-1) Subs: T Lahiff (0-1m) for Ó Cofaigh Byrne (46), B Howard for MacMahon (53), L O’Dell for McGarry (57), G McEneaney for Murchan (59), Daire Newcombe for J Small (temp, 70-ft), Killian McGinnis for T Clancy (71).

Kerry: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley (0-1), D Casey; D Bourke, T Morley, G White (0-1); D O’Connor, J O’Connor (1-1); P Clifford, D Geaney (0-1), C Burke (0-1); D Clifford (0-3, 0-1f), S O’Shea (0-6, 0-2f, 0-1 ‘45’), D Moynihan Subs: P Murphy for D Bourke (ht), T Brosnan for D Geaney (50), KEvans for Burke (57), B O’Sullivan for J O’Connor (59), S O’Brien for D Moynihan (64).

Ref: C Lane (Cork).

Armagh 1-9; Donegal 0-12

They may be boxing on the undercard of Division 2 but make no mistake about it, but when the heavyweights of summer are being lined up, you can include both Armagh and Donegal in that small band of potential Sam Maguire winners.

They slugged out an entertaining draw but for both local supremo Kieran McGeeney and restored Donegal boss Jim McGuinness, this was  more a learning process to see where their charges stood before the Ulster championship gets underway.

They will probably get a second joust at each other as they look almost certain to contest the Div 2 final next month before preparing for the real thing in Ulster and the All Ireland series.

With Derry under Mickey Harte now looking the likely lads to oust Dublin or Kerry from the top table, the task for other Ulster managers in particular has become that bit more difficult. But no titles or medals are handed out in spring so everyone will be keeping a little bit back to provide them with an extra thrust in their step for the championship.

Derry appear to be the exception, having gone out to win the McKenna Cup and follow it up with four perfect results in the league — times will tell if such honesty of effort so early in the year is the right way to go, or a tad foolhardy.

Rian O’Neill was back in action for the first time this year for the home side and his goal seemed to have sealed a great comeback for the Orchard County.

That would have felled the Donegal team of last year but under McGuinness they have an extra factor which materialized magically when Shane O’Donnell kicked a great score to level matters for the fifth and final time.

It would have been too outrageous a script had substitute Jarly Og Burns’ half-shot ended up winning the match in front of close to 12,000 fans in the final minute on the weekend his dad became the 41st president of the GAA, but his effort fell just short.

Still no one was complaining as both managers have bigger fish to fry down the line and not losing a big game is almost as good as a win in the circumstances.



Div 1

Derry 3-10; Galway 1-11

Dublin 3-18; Kerry 1-14

Roscommon 1-16; Monaghan 0-7

Tyrone 1-15; Mayo 1-11

Div 2

Meath 0-12; Kildare 0-9

Cavan 2-13; Louth 3-9

Cork 1-14; Fermanagh 0-16

Armagh 1-9; Donegal 0-12

Div 3

Clare 2-15 ; Wicklow 0-8

Down 4-12; Offaly 2-14

Westmeath 0-14; Limerick 1-8

Sligo 1-20; Antrim 1-13

Div 4

Longford  3-12; London 1-10

Wexford 0-21; Waterford 1-7

Carlow 2-14; Leitrim 1-16

Laois 0-11; Tipperary 1-7


Div 1A

Kilkenny  1-26; Offaly 1-19

Wexford 1-13; Clare 0-16

Cork 1-21; Waterford 1-19

Div 1B

Tipperary 3-25; Westmeath 2-21

Limerick 3-30; Dublin 1-18

Galway 2-35; Antrim 1-13