Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tyrone anxious to shake off Croke Park goal shyness

Published 04/08/2016 | 02:30

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford Photo: Sportsfile
Mayo manager Stephen Rochford Photo: Sportsfile

If the adage that 'goals win games' applies to Mayo v Tyrone on Saturday, Stephen Rochford's squad are poised to qualify for a fifth successive All-Ireland semi-final.

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For while Tyrone hit Derry for three goals and Cavan for five in this year's Ulster's campaign, their return in big Croke Park in the closing stages of the championship has been very meagre since winning the 2008 All-Ireland title.

They have scored only one goal (Peter Harte against Kerry last year) in their last eight All-Ireland quarter-finals and semi-finals.

They failed to find the net in their last five quarter-finals, leaving Davy Harte (v Dublin in 2008) as their last goalscorer at this stage of the championship.

That's in contrast with Mayo, who scored 17 goals in 13 quarter-finals/semi-final/finals over the past five seasons.

They maintained the impressive strike rate last Saturday, hitting Westmeath for three goals.

Despite their goal-shyness, Tyrone won All-Ireland quarter-finals in 2009-2013 and last year and also beat Donegal via the points route in last month's Ulster final.

Dublin have been prolific goalscorers in both the provincial and All-Ireland series under Jim Gavin, although their strike-rate dropped in Leinster this year when they scored four goals in three games, down seven on last year.

They need no reminding that they were hit for three goals in their last championship clash with Donegal in the semi-final two years ago, a leakage that led to an overhaul of their structural systems.

Apart from that, Donegal haven't been especially productive. They drew a goal blank against Kerry in the 2014 All-Ireland final and against Mayo in last year's quarter-final.

And while they landed an impressive haul of 21 points against Cork last Sunday, they failed to score a goal.

They also drew a goal blank against Tyrone and Monaghan (replay) in this year's Ulster Championship.

Irish Independent

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