Mayo bounced back from their Connacht final defeat against Roscommon with a stunning eight-point victory over Tipp who lost midfielder Steven O’Brien to a straight red card midway through the second-half and were swamped in the final quarter as Mayo cruised home.
The wind-assisted Westerners blitzed Tipp in the opening 20 minutes, opening a 0-9 to 0-1 lead. Philip Quirke’s 24th minute goal dragged off-colour Tipp back into contention and, at half-time, they trailed by just four points, 1-3 to 0-10.
But Mayo boss Tony Duffy had pinpointed the opening 10 minutes of the second-half as the crucial period and his players held firm. And when O’Brien saw red following an incident with Mayo wing-back Kevin Lynch, the game was up for Tipp.
“What they have done this year is blow teams away in the first 10 minutes of the second-half,” Duffy explained. “At half-time there was no complacency with us. We knew it was going to be a monumental struggle in the second-half. Lads were well tuned in to starting the second-half well and winning the first 10 minutes. We knew that if we could hang in there and maybe win that 10 minutes we could kick on.”
It appeared Mayo had their homework done as they punched holes in the Tipperary defence with direct running. And, when Tipp’s main dangermen were in possession, Mayo got plenty of bodies around the ball and stripped the ball from their opponents.
A modest Duffy said: “If I could explain where the performance came from I would be a very good coach and I’m not. We had them sussed out, we had them well watched. We had DVDs of them. They have a few key players that needed watching, big men they kept swapping, centre-forward, midfield, full-forward. We knew they would interchange, we knew how they would play and we crowded the middle. We crowded in around the full-forward and they didn’t really have a plan B.”
For Tipperary, this was a first minor football championship defeat since 2010.
“I’m lost for words, it just didn’t happen,” Power admitted. “We have no excuses to offer, Mayo were the better team. Sport can be cruel as well as being kind. It is very cruel for Tipp and for all those lads that have put in a huge effort. We never got going in midfield and the half forward line, we never got to grips with controlling it.”
But Power insisted Tipperary football remains “in a good place.”
“Just because we are after losing today doesn’t mean Tipp football is back to where it was. Tipp football is on the up, these days are going to happen, maybe these days will make the lads hungrier.
“We just lacked that bit of hunger today. We can play a lot better than that, then everything Mayo kicked today went over, that’s sport. Every kind of shot was going over the bar.”
Tipp did get to within three points of Mayo with 10 minutes left – 1-7 to 0-13 – but the Connacht runners-up won the remainder of the game 0-6 to 0-1.
Scorers for Mayo: A Gallagher 0-4 (3fs), J Quinn, E Lavin (2fs, 1 45) 0-3 each, P Durcan, D O’Connor, S Hennelly 0-2 each, C Burke, C Byrne, D Duffy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tipperary: P Quirke 1-2 (0-1f), C Kennedy, TJ Ryan 0-2 (1f) each, J McGrath 0-2.
MAYO: C O’Malley; J Geraghty, S Moran, M Plunkett; P Durcan, C Burke, K Lynch; B Mullen, A Gallagher; E Lavin, S Coen, D O’Connor; J Quinn, S Regan, S Hennelly.
Subs: R Coleman for Hennelly (43), C Byrne for Regan (50), D Duffy for Mullen (55), S Hennelly for Lavin (57), V Roughneen for Coleman (60+1).
TIPPERARY: E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, R Mulcahy; C O’Riordan, D Fitzelle, B Maher; P Quirke, J Martin; I Fahey, J McGrath, G Henry; C Kennedy, S O’Brien, T Kirwan.
Subs: J Lonergan for Martin (22), TJ Ryan for Kirwan (36), J Loughnane for Fitzelle (40), J Shelly for Henry (43), M Meagher for O’Riordan (58).
Referee: F Barry (Kildare).