Our Championship history with Tyrone is brief. In fact, our first ever meeting in the Championship was in that famous day in 1989. And there’s good news: They’ve never beaten us in the All-Ireland series!
1989 – All Ireland Semi-Final
Our first ever meeting in the Championship came in August 1989. It was 38 years after our last All-Ireland Final appearance, and at the time, it was a relatively rare All-Ireland semi-final appearance as well. We overcame the Red Hand men that day on a scoreline of 0-12 to 1-6 in what was, in truth, a fairly dour affair. It was a little before yours truly’s time (I was 1) so I can only imagine the emotion that day. Sadly, we went on to lose to an excellent Cork side in the final, but it was a famous day which provided us with one of the most iconic Mayo football images of all time.
2004 – All-Ireland Quarter Final
When the Qualifiers first emerged in 2001, it opened everything up in the sense that games between certain teams weren’t so rare anymore. 2004 was a year to remember for us in many ways: We had overcome Galway and the Rossies to capture our first Connacht Title in 5 years, we reached an All-Ireland Final for the first time in 7 years, and, perhaps the highlight, we dethroned one of the best All-Ireland Champions the country had known.
Tyrone were hot favourites going into the game despite being pipped in Ulster by bitter rivals Armagh. That day in Croker will go down, for me, as one of the greatest ever days. When you think back to that Tyrone side, it really does put into perspective what our lads achieved that day. Even a fantastic goal from Stephen O’Neill couldn’t stop a relentless Mayo, who went on to finish the game 0-16 to 1-9. David Brady led with a fantastic performance and 3 points from play, with the likes of Alan Dillon showing why he had earned an All-Star that year.
In an incredible day at HQ, Fermanagh also knocked 2002 Champions, Armagh, out of the Championship, setting up a date with ourselves, which we ultimately won after a replay.
2008 – Round 3 Qualifier
A frustrating day at the office. From our point of view, one we should definitely have closed out, but lost out by a single point. The frustration started on the Monday, when it was announced that they would be bringing us to Croke Park for a Qualifier, which was unheard of at the time. That meant I couldn’t make the trip and had to watch the game on a tiny TV in the canteen at work. It’s ok, though, because at the final whistle, a work colleague of mine, seeing how upset I was at losing by the minimum, decided to calm the whole situation down by explaining to me that it was “only football”. That’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Conor Mortimer got the only goal of the game but it wasn’t enough to get us into the All-Ireland series that year. Although we led for most of the game, we were slowly but surely clawed back by the Ulster men. Even more frustratingly, Tyrone went on to win a 3rd All-Ireland in 6 years after a phenomenal All-Ireland series where they hammered Dublin, comfortably overcame Wexford and beat Kerry in a roller coaster final (Brian Dooher, remember him?).
2013 – All-Ireland Semi-Final
We had just annihilated the 2012 All-Ireland champions, Donegal, in the previous round. For a change, we were favourites against a Tyrone side who had slogged it through a long, tough Qualifier campaign, beating Offaly, Roscommon, Kildare and Meath before they put Ulster Champions, Monaghan, out in the Quarter-Final. Remember that day? The day Joe Brolly, bizarrely, questioned Sean Cavanagh’s gender? Aye, that one.
Tyrone with momentum are a dangerous side indeed, something we hope to replicate on Saturday. But in 2013 we were Connacht Champions for the 3rd straight year and aiming to get back into an All-Ireland Final. A sticky first half ended with a brace of fantastic Chris Barrett points which was the catalyst for us to go on and ultimately win the game comfortably. And that was without Cillian, too, as he had gone off in the first half after aggravating that infamous shoulder injury. Alan Freeman stepped up to kick 1-4 in a 1-16 to 0-13 point win. There are very few decent clips from that day online, so just enjoy Chris Barrett’s contribution again!
So there you have it – a very brief synopsis of our previous encounters with Tyrone in Championship football. Much like 1989 and 2004, we are travelling up as underdogs, although only very slightly. It’s a massive day for Mayo football, and if you are making the journey east, do your best to get in and shout on the Junior lads in their All-Ireland Final against Kerry. That game throws in at 2pm.
I’m not usually one for the whole “best supporters in the world” lark that players frequently come out with, in all sports world-wide. In fact, I’m usually quite cynical about it. But Andy’s latest one is on the button for me:
“We’re Mayo and we’re in this together.”
Go book your train or bus ticket, right now.