No smash and grab from Tyrone as they stepped up on the biggest stage

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 11/9/2021
Mayo vs Tyrone
Tyrone’s Peter Harte celebrates after the game with his son Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

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There was nothing Red-Handed about this All-Ireland victory, Tyrone's first in 13 years and fourth overall.

With the big two – Dublin and Kerry – eliminated in the semi-finals, most neutrals were pulling for Mayo in this novel meeting of these two counties on the biggest of stages.

But romance counts for little or nothing with the Sam Maguire on the line. Not after 70 years of going without, not after losing five of the last nine All-Ireland finals.

After all, Mayo's long pilgrimage of pain meant nothing to a Tyrone side finding a new identity after the Harte years.

What does count is ruthless efficiency. Tyrone played with it while Mayo reverted to old and recent failings as another golden chance slipped by.

The Tyrone players didn't wait for the formal Cup presenting ceremonies to display their jubilation and, as Mayo stood in that familiar despairing pose around the middle of the pitch, the victors ran to Hill 16 to share their success with their supporters.

Conor Meyler, meanwhile, went on a solo run to the Canal End, holding aloft a banner proclaiming his team as All-Ireland champions.

Underpinning those celebrations will have been a touch of disbelief.

Tyrone's Padraig Hamspey lifts the Sam Maguire Cup
(Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie)

Not that they could produce another winning performance here after their gutsy defeat of Kerry a fortnight ago, but that they made it to Headquarters at all.

It was only six weeks ago when Covid ripped through their camp – at first ahead of the Ulster final and then with a vengeance in the days that followed, leading to that ultimatum to Croke Park that either the semi-final gets pushed back for a second week or Tyrone were withdrawing from the championship.

Questions remain over that whole issue but for Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan, for the players and their supporters, none of that matters now.

They are champions again, a status that looked years beyond them for a long time to come after Dublin steamrolled them in the 2018 final.

Nobody can say they didn't deserve this. It can be argued that Mayo created four great goal chances; yes, but they converted none of them, while Tyrone hit the back of the net twice in the second half.

Their goals, from supersub Cathal McShane – two minutes after coming on – and Darren McCurry were superbly-executed.

Mayo, in contrast, had Conor Loftus' casual shot taken off the line by Niall Sludden and, at a crucial moment early in the second half, Ryan O'Donoghue struck the woodwork with the game's only penalty.

GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Croke Park, Dublin 11/9/2021 Mayo vs Tyrone Tyrone's Peter Harte celebrates after the game with his son Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

James Horan's side grew in the latter stages of their semi-final victory over Dublin, coming from behind to deservedly triumph.

Here, however, it was a different story and their long-suffering supporters experienced deja-vu as they watched wrong options taken, shots hit wide and too short in the last quarter.

Mayo malfunctioned again with the stakes at their highest. The wait goes on.

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