Tyrone stuttered their way into round three of All-Ireland Qualifiers, a poor display just about enough to fend off a fired up Roscommon .
After completely demolishing Offaly seven days earlier, most neutrals and Tyrone supporters thought that this would be a stroll on the park - but they were in for a shock.
Roscommon had received a lot of criticism for the way that they were hammered by Mayo in the Connacht semi-final and it was obvious from the outset that they weren’t going to roll over this time.
They employed an ultra defensive system, with as many as fourteen players behind the ball at times and the visitors struggled to break them down.
A goal from corner forward Conor Devaney left the Rossies three in front with half time approaching before Tyrone enjoyed their best spell of the game.
They landed three points in a row to go in on level terms and, when they also landed the opening six points of the second period, they looked set to kick on to a comfortable win.
They failed to put their opponents to bed, alas, and were held scoreless for almost twenty minutes at the end.
During that spell, the hosts grew in confidence as they closed the gap to two and but for some erratic shooting they may well have forced extra time. Tyrone were nervously holding on in those closing moments and it was with a huge sigh of relief that they greeted the final whistle.
The Red Hands were flat for most of the first half and, apart from that spell when they hit nine consecutive points, this was a display that they will want to forget in a hurry.
Not for the first time, they struggled to make an impact against a side with a mass defence, although his was maybe the sort of game they needed.
Another emphatic win like Tullamore would have done them absolutely no good at all and, while they have plenty of work to do, they have two weeks to try and put things right to ensure that they are still playing championship football coming into August.
On the day Tyrone had good displays from Cathal McCarron, Conor Gormley, Darren McCurry and Mark Donnelly.
Roscommon set their stall out from the start to turn the game into a battle of attrition and that is certainly what it was, with the opening score not arriving until 15th minute courtesy of a Conor Devaney free.
By then Colm Cavanagh and Conor Gormley had already gone into the referee’s notebook. Meath whistler David Gough gave a totally inept performance, with a number of decisions given against Tyrone questionable to say the least. What is it about Tyrone and Royal County referees?
Sean Cavanagh levelled the game from a free before Gormley placed Carrickmore club mate Donnelly for a brilliant score from forty five metres out in the 21st minute.
Tyrone looked as they had perhaps weathered the early storm at that stage but that analysis proved to be incorrect. Roscommon full backs Niall Carty and Neil Collins both found themselves through on the Tyrone goal with the latter electing to fist the ball over the bar instead of trying to find the net.
Three minutes later, they were caught out for a goal when Devaney got in behind a hesitant Tyrone defence to drive past Pascal McConnell at the second time of asking.
That score appeared to wake Tyrone from their slumber with McCurry landing a terrific score from out on the right wing before man of the match Donnelly left the minimum between the two sides.
A minute into injury time Tyrone almost got in for a goal but Joe McMahon, making his 50th championship appearance, was denied by keeper Darren O’Malley at the expense of a 45.
Conor McAliskey made no mistake with the resulting kick to leave it 0-5 to 1-2 at halftime.
Tyrone continued were they had left off with the hard working Donnelly winning two frees which McCurry converted after the Edendork man had opened the second half scoring from a placed ball following a foul on Sean Cavanagh.
McCurry then hit a brilliant point from play from out on the left wing before Cavanagh made it nine in a row. Roscommon substitute Kevin Higgins then got his side’s first score in twenty three minutes before another McCurry free left it 0-12 to 1-3.
Things were looking good for the visitors at this stage but Roscommon then lifted their display to a different level as they put Tyrone on the back foot.
Team captain Cathal Cregg converted two frees as well as scoring from play with Donie Shine on target as well and all of a sudden the gap was down to two with still six minutes of normal time left to play.
There was to be no more scoring but during that time the home side crucially hit four wides which denied them what would have been one of the biggest upsets in the history of the qualifiers.