Mayo 1-16 Tyrone 0-13
Mayo’s mission remains on course following another impressive but hard-earned win over Tyrone at Croke Park, where a six points win transported them into a second successive All-Ireland football final.
After trailing at the halfway stage, James Horan’s men turnd up the heat in a devastating third quarter, hitting their opponents for 1-4 without reply to seize control of the game.
The only goal of the game came from an Alan Freeman penalty during that crucial spell, and the Red Hands had no answer when the serious questions were asked.
Now they await next weekend’s second semi-final between Dublin and Kerry to discover the identity of the team they will take on for the Sam Maguire Cup next month.
In front of a crowd of 65,345, Tyrone needed to put the Connacht champions on the back foot right from the off, and they were first to raise a flag, wing back Ciaran McGinley raiding along the right for a point.
That was quickly cancelled out by Cillian O’Connor, but he was soon to be forced out of the game by injury, as was Tyrone centre back Peter Harte.
Stephen O’Neill restored the Red Hand advantage, and the Ulster men continued to force thjeir opponents onto the back foot, punishing slack defending with two superbly struck points from Connor McAliskey.
Darren McCurry made it 0-5 to 0-2, but Alan Freeman narrowed the gap from a 45 metre free at the end of the opening quarter.
Freeman had the ball in the net, but the whistle had already gone for a 13 metre free, which Kevin McLoughlin missed.
Mayo dominated possession for 15 minutes, but failed to get a score on the board, such was the pressure imposed by the Tyrone defenders, who forced their direct opponents into almost impossible shooting positions.
Mayo duly changed the point of attack, and defenders Chris Barrett (2) and Lee Keegan hammered over three points from long distance to get their challenge right back on track.
Tyrone had raised flags on the breakaway through McCurry and Ronan O’Neill, who had replaced the injured Stephen O’Neill on 25 minutes.
Tyrone held a narrow 0-7 to 0-6 interval lead, but Mayo’s devastating start to the second half had them three up inside four minutes, Enda Varley landing a point, before Freeman drilled home a penalty after Colm Boyle had been brought down as he bore down on goal.
Now Mayo were in familiar territory, no longer chasing the game, and able to open out and express themselves, stretching the Tyrone defence and punishing with scores from Alan Dillon and a monster free from goalkeeper Rob Hennelly.
Having scored 1-4 without reply, James Hogan’s side were ahead by 1-10 to 0-7 with just 11 minutes of the second half played.
And even when Tyrone did break forward for scores from Aidan Cassidy and McCurry, Freeman responded with a wonder point.
Tyrone’s spirit had been broken, and when Alan Dillon, Cathal Carolan and Aidan O’Shea all powered through to score, it was clear this was to be Mayo’s day.
Tyrone: P McConnell, R McKenna, C Clarke, C McCarron, C McGinley (0-1), P Harte, C Gormley, C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-2, 1f), Mattie Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, Joe McMahon, D McCurry (0-4, 2f), S O’Neill (0-1), C McAliskey (0-2).
Subs: D Carlin for Harte, R O’Neill (0-1) for S O’Neill, R McNabb for McMahon, A Cassidy (0-1) for Mattie Donnelly, K Coney (0-1) for R O’Neill
Mayo: R Hennelly (0-1, f), T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, C Barrett (0-2), L Keegan (0-2), D Vaughan, C Boyle, A O’Shea (0-1), S O’Shea, K McLoughlin (0-1, f), K Higgins, A Dillon (0-2), C O’Connor (0-1, f), A Freeman (1-4, 1-0 pen, 0-3f), A Moran.
Subs: E Varley (0-1) for O’Connor, M Conroy for Moran, C Carolan (0-1) for Cunniffe, R Feeney for Vaughan, B Moran for A O’Shea
Referee: M Deegan (Laois).