Tyrone survived a searching examination of their credentials as they narrowly secured their passage into the third round of the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship qualifiers with a 0-12 to 1-07 win over Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park.
A first-half goal from Conor Devaney ensured that the sides went into the break level, but Tyrone took control early in the second half, eventually building up a six-point lead with Darren McCurry in fine scoring form.
Roscommon fought back in the closing minutes, but three late wides from them were crucial in denying their supporters what could have been a famous upset.
Roscommon went into this game as huge underdogs and it was no surprise that John Evans chose to start with a very defensive alignment, playing Cathal Cregg as a solitary inside forward.
His notional full forward line colleagues were Donie Shine, who dropped back to midfield, and Devaney, who darted in between the half and full forward lines.
That policy of containment worked very well in a competitive first quarter and 14 minutes had expired before a free from Devaney opened the scoring.
Tyrone responded with long-range points from Seán Cavanagh and Mark Donnelly, but when Neil Collins punched over an equaliser with 27 minutes gone, it was clear that Tyrone were in for a much tougher challenge than they had encountered last Saturday in O’Connor Park.
Roscommon got their big breakthrough on the half-hour mark when Devaney fought hard to get on the end of a long ball when chased by two defenders.
After a nice turn evaded Ryan McKenna with the ball running loose, he was able to get a soccer-style shot away on goals.
Paschal McKenna did well to deflect shot on to the post but the rebound fell perfectly for Devaney to slam the ball into an empty net.
Tyrone upped the tempo in the run up to half-time and levelled the match with three quick points, while they could have had a goal of their own after Seán Cavanagh set up Joe McMahon with a good run along the end line.
However, a fine save from Darren O’Malley denied the Tyrone defender, who had to shoot very quickly in a tight space.
The second half began in the same vein and Darren McCurry struck four times in a row for the visitors to give Tyrone a 0-10 to 1-02 lead by the 44th minute.
That advantage was stretched even further by a great point on the run from Seán Cavanagh.
McCurry and Kevin Higgins traded scores to leave Tyrone six up, 0-12 to 1-03, with just 15 minutes to play and at this stage most of the 3542 supporters in the ground expected Tyrone to close out a handy win.
However, the four subs deployed by Roscommon started to take effect. With Higgins and O’Gara both getting on the ball regularly, the Rossies began to turn the screw, going for broke as the 70 minute mark drew closer. Tyrone’s lack of power and physique in the forward line was also a factor at this stage as the Roscommon back line took control of the battle for possession in that sector.
Frees from Cregg and Shine got the Roscommon charge underway and planted seeds of doubt in some of the Tyrone players. Two further scores from Cregg really raised the atmosphere in Dr Hyde Park, reducing the deficit to two with five minutes to play.
However, a string of late wides were to prove crucial as three errant efforts brought Roscommon’s wides tally up to seven for the half.
Despite the late introduction of Senan Kilbride, Roscommon were unable to engineer the goal chance that they badly needed and a late block from Conor Clarke on Karol Mannion was the final clinching moment for the visitors.
Roscommon: D O’Malley; N Collins (0-01), N Carty, S McDermott; P Brogan, N Daly, D Keenan; C Shine, K Mannion; I Kilbride, E Smith, C Daly; C Devaney (1-01, 0-01 free), D Shine (0-01 free), C Cregg (0-03, 0-02 frees).
Subs: D O’Gara for Smith (41 mins), K Higgins (0-01) for Kilbride (44), M Finneran for C Daly (50), C Compton for Devaney (56), S Kilbride for D Shine (65).
Tyrone: P McConnell; C McCarron, J McMahon, R McKenna; C Clarke, P Harte, C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh (0-02, 0-01 free); Matthew Donnelly, C McGinley, Mark Donnelly (0-02); D McCurry (0-06, 0-04 frees), M Penrose (0-01), C McAliskey (0-01).
Subs: K Gallagher for Matthew Donnelly (48 mins), R O’Neill for McAliskey (48), S Warnock for McKenna (57), K Coney for McCurry (63), P McNiece for Mark Donnelly (65).
Referee: David Gough