Having taken the prized scalp of Armagh in round 1, Roscommon returned to 'The Hyde' last Saturday to confront another Ulster heavyweight in understandably confident mood.
However, Tyrone would provide much more stern opposition in this All-Ireland Round 2 qualifier and in truth, 'stern' proved the operative word as Mickey Harte's charges, after a none-to-impressive first half, assumed cruise control on the resumption.
Buoyed by what this reporter considered a dubious enough penalty award (more anon), Peter Harte's resultant spotkick produced the only goal of the contest and propelled the Red Hands on the road to victory, achieved convincingly by a hefty 11-point margin.
A truly superlative display of score getting, ball-winning and selfless distribution by the long serving Owen Mulligan (top scorer on the day with 0-5) was integral to Tyrone's win here. The blonde bombshell didn't score in the Ulster semi-final against Donegal and was replaced during the second half, but he was back to his scintillating best on this occasion. In addition, 19-year-old Darren McCurry (introduced early in the second moiety) went on to deliver a truly stunning debut on the Hyde stage, with the Edendork youngster showing all the attributes of a seasonal veteran and lofting over four terrific points from play in the process.
Pencil in the now traditional Tyrone 'bodies behind the ball' defensive strategy which, with the notable exception of the lion-hearted Cathal Cregg, squeezed the life out of the Roscommon attack in that second period. And aided by the influence of Joe McMahon in the centre of the park, the full extent of the Red Hands' ascendancy became telling the longer the game wore on.
Consequently, it became only an exercise for statisticians to ultimately determine what the final victory margin would be, as the big Tyrone following in the 6,774 officially returned attendance were given cast-iron assurance of victory from a long way out.
After the win over Armagh, Des Newton's Roscommon had every reason to field confidence seep through their veins, despite the impressive CV of the second tranche of Northern visitors to come to Hyde Park in recent weeks. A vote of confidence was given to the fifteen who started against the Orchard men, while the O'Neill county - already without influential figures such as Ryan McMenamin (he came on later), Sean Cavanagh and Kyle Coney (both injured) - were further hampered when listed full-forward Stephen O'Neill didn't line out. He was replaced at the fringe of the square by Urney clubman Jonathan Lafferty.
And so commenced a first half which, let it be clearly stated, left an awful lot to be desired with regard to the quality of play on offer from both sides. It was pockmarked by a preponderance of poor passing, cheaply conceded possession, inept distribution and some downright careless marksmanship on view. The hard-pressed paying public got precious little value for money in the this regard, but, on the other hand, the closeness of the scoring sustained interest among the spectators. Listed Tyrone centre-back Conor Gormley moved back to pick-up Senan Kilbride from the off, with Martin Penrose deployed as a defensive sweeper, resulting in the visitors utilising a two-man full-forward line. Lafferty showed his paces early on (third minute when placing attacking midfielder Joe McMahon for the opening point, while Martin Penrose punished a defensive indiscretion (6th minute) when pointing the resultant free.
Roscommon recovered from a slow start to open their account with an 11th-minute Cathal Cregg point, but attacking corner-back Dermot Carlin then sortied upfield to make the road for emerging hero Owen Mulligan to point from an acute angle.
Clann na nGael's Donal Shine, who had three untypical earlier misses from placed balls, made amends with a splendid effort from play. But while a Joe McMahon pointed free kept Tyrone two ahead, Roscommon with Ian Kilbride excelling in defence and Karol Mannion's influence crucial at midfield, had drawn level on 30 minutes. Donal Shine's pointed free, and a fine effort by Senan Kilbride, left the scores deadlocked at 0-4 each. Sensing another renaissance, similar to that on show against the Armagh standard bearers, the Roscommon faithful were in full voice. Sean Purcell joined an attack and his involvement eventually led to an opening for the unmarked Cathal Cregg, but the Western Gaels man was, for once, off target from a very scorable position.
As the interval beckoned a hitherto rather tame Tyrone performance was replaced by a visibly marked improvement. Colm Cavanagh placed Owen Mulligan for the lead point; Mark Donnelly earned a free, pointed by the on-fire Mulligan; and Peter Harte did the spadework for Jonathan Lafferty to bisect the uprights in injury time.
Thus, after a first half where Roscommon would not have been flattered to be ahead, Tyrone went to the dressing rooms enjoying an 0-7 to 0-4 lead. But the hope through the ground was for a second half with far less of the scrappy ultra-physical style of play all too evident up to this.
Castlerea's Ger Heneghan was introduced to the Roscommon attack at the break, but, from a home viewpoint, this qualifier would take a decisive turn for the worst three minutes after the restart. Possession was given away in the Roscommon defence, leading to a counter attack involving Mattie Donnelly, Martin Penrose, Mark Donnelly, with the latter appearing to charge through with the ball before the referee awarded a penalty. A minute before at the other end, Des Newton's men appeared hard done by with an apparent 'pick-up' in the area going unpunished. At any event, Peter Harte clinically converted the Tyrone spot-kick which had the twofold effect of opening up a six-point gap and providing the spur for Mickey Harte's men to push ahead for victory.
To their credit, Roscommon battled bravely on but, being constantly forced outfield by the buttressed Tyrone rearguard, their attacks became aimless and one-dimensional. The great-hearted Cathal Cregg, with three excellent points was their only scorer from play in this spell with Ger Heneghan (free) also on target.
Meanwhile, the O'Neill county picked off points against tiring opponents with great regularity, with the aforementioned Owen Mulligan and Darren McCurry to the fore in this regard, and with Martin Penrose, substitute Niall McKenna and wing-back Sean O'Neill completing the tally.
And the outcome was decided long before referee Rory Hickey ended proceedings at Roscommon GAA H/Q.
Scorers - Tyrone: O Mulligan 0-5 (1f); D McCurry 0-4; P Harte 1-0 (pen); M Penrose (1f) and J McMahon (1f) 0-2 each; J Lafferty N McKenna and S O'Neill 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Cregg 0-4; D Shine 0-2 (1f); S Kilbride 0-1; G Heneghan 0-1f.
Tyrone: Pascal McConnell; Aidan McCrory, Conor Clarke, Dermot Carlin; Cathal McCarron, Conor Gormley, Sean O'Neill; Joe McMahon, Colm Cavanagh; Mattie Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, Peter Harte; Martin Penrose, Jonathan Lafferty, Owen Mulligan. Subs: Ryan McMenamin for McCarron (42), Darren McCurry for Lafferty (43), Brian McGuigan for Mark Donnelly (56), Aidan Cassidy for Cavanagh (58), Niall McKenna (0-1) for Penrose (63).
Roscommon: Geoffrey Claffey (capt.), Seanie McDermott, Niall Carty, Sean Purcell, Neil Collins, Peter Domican, Ian Kilbride, Cathal Shine, Karol Mannion, Niall Kilroy, Cathal Cregg, Niall Daly, Senan Kilbride, Colin Compton, Donal Shine. Subs: Ger Heneghan for Kilroy (H/T), Donal Ward for Collins (52), Michael Finneran for Compton (52), Darren McDermott for Daly (60), Donie Smith for Mannion (68).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).