Tyrone’s sweeping raids from deep didn’t quite mask the defensive problems they will need to address for stiffer tests, but they emerged safely with a six-point win from their first game back in Division One.
Niall Daly smacked in an early goal, and there were chances for Ciaran Murtagh and Ultan Harney, who were both denied by Mickey O’Neill, a busy goalkeeper who kept the Red Hands in the game.
They survived, and delighted the home following in a 6,110 crowd with some trademark Tyrone football, defending deep to thrust forward at breakneck pace for important scores. Many of those came from frees in the opening half, as a nervous Roscommon defence struggled to cope with the movement of their opponents.
“It is a good win and a good start for sure,” said Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
“Roscommon could’ve had more scores in the first half, they had one goal and we had two very good stops to stop it being three.
“If they had three goals by half-time it would’ve been a very different game, we weathered the storm, we have to be happy with the end result, a six-point win I suppose is convincing enough.”
But there are concerns over Mattie Donnelly’s availability for next weekend’s clash with Dublin at Croke Park. The All-Star shipped a bang on the head and had to go off after just 15 minutes.“He’s got a bit of concussion, and that’s a pity, he didn’t get to play much before that,” said Harte.
Roscommon manager Kevin McStay was pleased with his side’s response to a difficult first half.
“At half-time we were in a very tough place – these are a top four team playing at home, so it couldn’t really get any tougher for us.
“We said this game could get really ugly if we don’t knuckle down into it and really fight on.
I was very happy with the second half, but it comes back down to missed chances. You get the big chances and you put them away, it changes the tempo of it.
The Rossies stunned the Ulster champions with a goal inside the opening two minutes.
Ultan Harney rose high to fetch and lay off for Niall Daly to finish with a firmly struck shot past O’Neill.
Once Tyrone got their running game, going, it was clear they were going to be too hot to handle for a more direct Roscommon side.
Harte was at the centre of all the Red Hands best attacking efforts, and his well-taken point from play eased his side in front.
Roscommon went 17 minutes without a score until Harney sent Donie Smith in for a tidy effort, but another effective Tyrone burst brought scores from wing backs Johnny Munroe and Tiernan McCann, with Harte’s fourth sending them in with a 0-10 to 1-2 interval lead. A couple of Donie Smith points trimmed the deficit, and even when Tyrone responded with scores from Ronan O’Neill, and Sludden, the Rossies were able to respond strongly.
Manager Kevin McStay turned to his bench, and found able warriors in John McManus and Fintan Cregg, who both added in terms of creativity and score-taking as the gap came down to three points with 20 minutes to play.
Tyrone had their own super-subs in Sean Cavanagh and Mark Bradley who steadied the ship. And Niall Sludden capped an influential performance with his second score to confirm the result late on.
Scorers – Tyrone: P Harte (3fs) 0-4; R O’Neill (3fs) 0-3;
D McCurry (1 f, 1 ’45), N Sludden, M Bradley 0-2 each; C Cavanagh, T McCann, J Munroe, C Meyler, C McCann 0-1 each.
Roscommon: N Daly 1-0; D Smith, F Cregg 0-3 each; J McManus, N Kilroy, C Devaney 0-1 each.
Tyrone: M O’Neill; P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, M Donnelly, J Munroe; C Cavanagh, D McClure; C Meyler, N Sludden, P Harte; D McCurry, C McShane, R O’Neill.
Subs: A McCrory for Donnelly (15), M Bradley for O’Neill (55), S Cavanagh for Munroe (57), C McCann for Meyler (63), L Brennan for McCurry (67), C McCullagh for Sludden (69).
Roscommon: C Lavin; D Murray, T Featherston, N McInerney; R Stack, S Mullooly, C Devaney; K Higgins, T O’Rourke; N Daly, S McDermott, E Smith; D Smith, U Harney, C Murtagh. Subs: S Killoran for Higgins (24), J McManus for Murray (35), F Cregg for Daly (ht), N Kilroy for Smith (42), C Connolly for Murtagh (55), G Patterson for Smith (68).
Ref: A Nolan (Wicklow)