Anthony Cunningham hailed his side’s resilience as Roscommon kept Tyrone’s second-half rally at bay to earn a share of the spoils in difficult conditions at Dr Hyde Park.
Roscommon hit seven unanswered points, with a strong wind behind them, to establish a six-point interval lead but Tyrone rallied with the elements at their backs, and goalkeeper Niall Morgan landed a trademark score from play to restore parity with three minutes remaining.
But, remarkably, the home side were denied the chance to win the game when referee Noel Mooney overturned a 21-yard-free given to the Rossies straight in front of goal after consulting with his umpires.
“I suppose we’re disappointed that we didn’t kick on but the referee overturned the decision at the end. But, overall, it was a battling performance and we were greatly encouraged by what the guys did.
“When we were put to the pin of our collars there at the end, I think we blossomed again. Maybe there were a few unforced errors there in the second half that we’ll tidy up on. But for us, it’s great progress and we’ll take a lot from it,” felt Cunningham.
“There was a really strong breeze. We knew that Tyrone would come back. They did come back but they got the first few scores easily. We stabilised the game and got our goal. We looked to be in a solid position but they’re a top class team. You learn so much and our guys learned so much from playing them. It’s progress, although we’re disappointed that we didn’t get over the line,” he continued.
A cagey opening saw the sides deadlocked at 0-3 apiece after 19 minutes. Conor Daly and a brace from Conor Cox got wind-assisted Roscommon motoring but a couple of Peter Harte frees alongside a fisted effort from full-back Ronan McNamee kept Tyrone in touch.
Then, Roscommon disappeared over the horizon. The home side decimated Tyrone’s kickout, snaffling all the breaking ball thanks mainly to David Murray’s tenacity, to give their forwards the platform to kick some terrific scores.
Killoran (2), Cox, Ultan Harney, Donie Smith, Niall Kilroy and a superb score from distance by Ronan Daly catapulted the Rossies seven points clear, much to the delight of their vocal following.
Harte’s third free of the half stopped the rot, but Tyrone still had it all to do, trailing by 0-10 to 0-4 at the break.
A couple of Harte frees saw Tyrone make inroads early in the new period but they were hit with a sucker-punch in the 43rd minute when Roscommon grabbed their only score of the half — a goal from Ultan Harney.
Conor Cox supplied the ammunition from the left wing and the Clann na nGael forward rose highest to flick the ball beyond Niall Morgan.
But Tyrone kept plugging away with Morgan nailing a long-range free before full-forward Cathal McShane flicked Kyle Coney’s deliver to the net after 50 minutes.
Tyrone looked to have all the momentum at that stage but Roscommon defended for their lives as the visitors could only add scores through Darren McCurry and two from Morgan, including a trademark point from play.
When Mattie Donnelly was shown a black card with a minute remaining, it offered some respite for Roscommon, and they could have won it, only for Patterson’s good work to be undone by the umpires’ intervention.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte took aim at his team’s critics afterwards, adding that he was pleased by his side’s response to the lacklustre performance against Mayo seven days earlier.
“There wasn’t panic. If you look at the first 25 minutes of the first half, I thought that we played some super football against the breeze. We hit a bad patch before half time, which we seem to make a habit of doing where we ship seven unanswered points to put us into a bad place.
“I didn’t doubt them at all. We didn’t have a great day against Mayo. I’ve never doubted what these players are capable of doing. I have total respect for them. Maybe others don’t hold that respect as long as they might do. They’re very reactive to what they see.
“You don’t judge people on one performance. Of course you’d be alarmed if it’s not as good as it ought to be, and you know that the players can do better than that. I think they proved today that they can do much better than that. I think it was a very good response.”
Scorers for Roscommon: U Harney (1-1); C Cox (0-3); S Killoran (0-2); C Daly, R Daly, N Kilroy, D Smith (0-1 each).
Scorers for Tyrone: P Harte (0-5 frees); N Morgan (0-3, 2 frees); C McShane (1-0); R McNamee, D McCurry (0-1 each).
ROSCOMMON: D O’Malley; D Murray, C Daly, E McGrath; C Devaney, C Hussey, R Daly; T O’Rourke; E Smith; S Killoran, U Harney, N Kilroy; C Cox (0-3), D Smith, C Cregg.
Subs: Subs: C Compton for Cregg (53), G Patterson for Kilroy (56), H Darcy for O’Rourke (63), A Lyons for Cox (69).
TYRONE: N Morgan; L Brennan, R McNamee, C McLaughlin; T McCann, B McDonnell, M McKernan; B Kennedy, P Hamsey; P Harte, N Sludden, K McGeary; M Donnelly, C McShane, D McCurry.
Subs: C Meyler for McLaughlin (29), H P McGeary for McNamee (31), K Coney for Sludden (40), H Loughran for McDonnell (51), F Burns for Brennan (60).
Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).