By Alan Rodgers
WHEN: Sunday July 21, 2002
WHAT: All-Ireland Qualifier Round four
WHO: Tyrone 0-12 Sligo 1-14
WHERE: Croke Park
WHISTLER: John Bannon, Longford
CAST your minds back just 13 years. Tyrone’s quest to win the coveted Sam Maguire for the first time ever was taking on epic proportions. Hopes were high, though, that 2002 would be their year and they travelled to Croke Park brimming with confidence.
For, this was supposed to be the day when the Red Hand county took another step towards that first All-Ireland senior success. But it proved instead to be an occasion when those ambitions were quashed in devastating fashion by the underdogs.
What made the eventual defeat all the more disappointing for Tyrone was the fact that they had looked to be cruising early in the match. Indeed, a series of fine scores and the type of attacking football which had become their trademark looked set to secure them the win.
Peter Canavan, Stephen O’Neill, Brian Dooher and Cormac McAnallen were all on top form as they went into a healthy 0-8 to 0-2 lead. It all seemed to be so straightforward for the Red Hands until suddenly Sligo began to find their feet. From being nowhere at six points in arrears, the Connacht side grabbed the upper hand and proceeded to leave a shell-shocked Tyrone in real trouble.
By half-time, the issue was back in the balance and, inspired by Eamon O’Hara, Sligo continued to dominate on the resumption as well.
The decisive blow for Tyrone arrived entering the closing stages when Dessie Sloyan blasted the ball to the net. From then on, there was no chance of a Tyrone revival and they could have no complaints as they left Croke Park with their championship ambitions in tatters once more.
Fermanagh have made no changes to their starting line up for tomorrow's All-Ireland Qualifers clash, Westmeath have made three.