Tyrone limped out of Hyde Park with an unconvincing two-point win, an uncertain future looming as they await the identity of their next qualifier opponents.
After falling behind to a Conor Devaney goal, they appeared to have reeled in the Rossies, but the home side cast aside the defensive blanket and gave it a lash in the closing stages.
The Red Hands were on the rack as the Connacht men bombarded their goal, and only for some poor finishing, a sensational result could have rocked the GAA world.
“I’d say nobody looking in there of the top teams will be very scared about us today, and we can do nothing about that,” said the Tyrone boss. You have days like that, when it’s all about the result, and the performance takes second place, and that’s really how we have to view it.”
The Ulster giants struggled to find a way through lines of yellow shirts laid out inside the Roscommon half.
John Evans had his side set up to prevent Tyrone from going on the sort of scoring spree that had seen them demolish Offaly by 22 points a week earlier.
And it worked handsomely for most of the first half, with Tyrone managing just two points in the opening 30 minutes.
“You could see what was happening. Because we got so many scores last week, they said, ‘well, we have got to stop that’, so they’re going to park a lot of men back there,” said Harte. “So we had to adjust on our feet, and it’s not easy to do when you have come off the back of a game like we just had, where there was a lot of free-flowing football, a lot of opportunities presenting themselves, and they weren’t here on Saturday.
“So our players had to adjust to that, and it took them probably all of the first half to do that.”
When Devaney smacked home a goal on the half-hour, the Connacht men led by 1-2 to 0-2, and their supporters among the crowd of 3,542 dared to dream But the Red Hands responded, and finished the half with three points, from Darren McCurry, Mark Donnelly and a Conor McAliskey 45, to go in level, 1-2 to 0-5, at the break.
“They were such vital scores, because if we had not got them, we probably would not even had the confidence at the start of the second half the way we did,” said Harte.
McCurry had slotted four points on the spin, with Martin Penrose and Sean Cavanagh also on target, as Tyrone eased into a 0-11 to 1-2 lead, apparently on their way to a comfortable result.
But Evans unlocked the shackles, issued the command and his men poured forward, forcing their opponents into a desperate rearguard action.
Tyrone were in real trouble, and managed just one point of their own in the final quarter as they saw a six-point lead pared back to two.
However, they benefited from a rash of Roscommon wides, and saw Cathal Cregg denied a goal by a deflection.
“We were prepared for what Roscommon were going to bring to us, but probably we weren’t ready for the flat performance we had for the first 30 minutes,” said Harte. “You would be concerned about that, not so much about loosening our grip on the game, but we didn’t seize the few opportunities we had and once a team gets a run on you and you don’t stem the tide, you’re in trouble. We had to fight tooth and nail to keep them out to the end.”
Scorers for Roscommon: C Devaney 1-1 (0-1f), C Cregg 0-3 (2f), D Shine 0-2 (2f), N Collins 0-1.
Scorers for Tyrone: D McCurry 0-6 (4f), S Cavanagh (1f), Mark Donnelly 0-2 each, M Penrose, C McAliskey (45) 0-1 each.
Subs for Roscommon: D O’Gara for Smith (40), K Higgins for Kilbride (44), M Finneran for Daly (49), C Compton for Devaney.
Subs for Tyrone: K Gallagher for Mattie Donnelly (47), R O’Neill for McAliskey (47), S Warnock for McKenna (57), K Coney for McCurry (63), P McNeice for Mark Donnelly (66).
Referee: D Gough (Meath).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley, N Collins, N Carty, S McDermott, D Keenan, N Daly, P Brogan, C Shine, K Mannion, C Daly, E Smith, C Cregg, I Kilbride, D Shine, C Devaney (1-1 (0-1f). TYRONE: P McConnell, R McKenna, Joe McMahon, C McCarron, C Clarke, P Harte, C Gormley, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, Ciaran McGinley, D McCurry, M Penrose, C McAliskey.