All-Ireland Super 8s: Tyrone outclass Roscommon in Group Two opener
Tyrone made a winning start to the All-Ireland Super 8s with a well-worked 0-17 to 0-13 victory over Roscommon.
Mickey Harte's side got the better of their hosts with a ruthless second-half display at Dr Hyde Park.
The game hung in the balance when Roscommon closed within a point in the 46th minute but Tyrone responded with five points in a row to clinch victory.
Cathal McShane scored 0-8 as Tyrone's fourth win in as many weeks edged them towards an All-Ireland semi-final.
The victory for the Ulster side capped a turbulent week for the squad after a video emerged on social media of some players singing a rebel song as a band parade passed by their team bus.
Manager Mickey Harte, who apologised for the incident and said the matter was "being dealt with in-house", will be relieved that his players were not distracted by the controversy as they narrow their focus on a return to the All-Ireland final.
Both Tyrone and Roscommon will travel to Croke Park next week for a vital Group Two double header.
The Red Hands will take on Cork in their second match while Roscommon need a result against All-Ireland champions Dublin to keep their semi-final prospects alive.
McShane continues to dominate
McShane's evolution into an elite-level forward continued apace at Hyde Park as the full-forward acted as the fulcrum for the Tyrone attack.
He was restricted to three pointed frees in the first half but his power, footwork and work rate meant he was a vital outlet for Tyrone as they sought to transition out of defence when Roscommon's attacks floundered against the Red Hands' defensive wall.
The Owen Roe clubman also led the charge during a dominant second-half performance as the Roscommon defence tired and he began to find more space to score three outrageous points from play as well as a further two frees.
McShane also went close to a Red Hands' goal when he fisted one half-chance wide and then forced a turnover from a short kickout by Roscommon's Darren O'Malley only for his shot to be saved by the goalkeeper.
Morgan saves the day
For all of Tyrone's impressive first-half play, the Red Hands would have been trailing at the break if not for a pair of point-blank saves by Niall Morgan.
The visitors had eased into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead after the opening 14 minutes when the match exploded into life during a thrilling 60-second spell.
A superb attack by the hosts created an opening for Cathal Cregg but his powerful shot was brilliantly saved by Morgan and Tyrone cleared the danger.
Conor Cox landed an impressive score for Roscommon just seconds later but Tyrone immediately countered and Niall Sludden delivered his second point in quick succession to quell the home fans.
The second save by the Tyrone goalkeeper came during a frenetic injury-time period when Enda Smith's bulldozing run beat Colm Cavanagh and Frank Burns along the right end line but the full-forward's shot from an unlikely angle was well stopped by Morgan as Tyrone held onto a slender two-point advantage at the break.
Red Hands' strong second-half showing
Roscommon needed a fast start to the second half and the home fans erupted when Diarmuid Murtagh landed a superb point within seconds of the restart to shrink the Tyrone lead.
The visitors responded with two quick points but when Murtagh converted a free and Shane Killoran combined brilliantly with midfield partner Tadhg O'Rourke to add another score, Roscommon were back to within a single a point and Anthony Cunningham's side appeared to have stolen the momentum.
But Tyrone responded ruthlessly as Mattie Donnelly and McShane scored two points apiece while Peter Harte also got a score and rattled the crossbar with a vicious shot as the visitors reeled off five points in quick succession and kept Roscommon scoreless for 17 minutes to suck the belief from their opponents.
The Red Hands expertly finished out the game to clinch a comfortable four-point victory and, although the winning margin was significantly less than the 18-point gap between the teams at the same stage last year, Mickey Harte's side showed once again that they cannot be overlooked as title challengers this summer.
Roscommon: O'Malley (0-1); Murray, Mullooly, C Daly; N Daly (0-1), Hussey, R Daly; O'Rourke, Killoran (0-1); Darcy, C Cregg (0-1), Kilroy; Murtagh (0-4, 3f), Cox (0-2, 1f), E Smith (0-1).
Replacements: Stack (0-1) for Darcy, F Cregg for Killoran, Glennon (0-1) for Cox, Compton for Hussey, D Smith for C Cregg.
Tyrone: Morgan; HP McGeary, McNamee, Brennan; Cassidy, Burns (0-1), McKernan; Cavanagh, Kennedy (0-1); M Donnelly (0-2), Sludden (0-3), P Harte (0-1); McCurry (0-1), McShane (0-8, 5f), Meyler.
Replacements: K McGeary for HP McGeary, McDonnell for Kennedy, Hampsey for Cassidy, R Donnelly for McDonnell, McAliskey for Sludden, McCrory for Meyler.
Referee: David Coldrick (Meath)