Tyrone managed to beat Monaghan in a less than convincing two point win that raised more questions than it provided answers. Manager Mickey Harte will be delighted to have made it through to the last four but he will be under no illusions about his team’s performance. Granted Tyrone played some enterprising football in very difficult conditions today but against a team with so many key players missing and minus their team captain, the victory should have been much more convincing.
There was much talk in the lead up to the game about Tyrone’s ageing team and that too many of the older players had too many miles on the clock. Interestingly enough it was some of these so called older players that made the difference in the end. Brian Mc Guigan and Conor Gormley were outstanding while Stevie O’Neill got better as the game went on. His three points were all fine scores but the fisted score was a joy to see. There were one or two other flashes of skill from individuals but overall it was an average enough team display.
Looking closely at the game the truth is that Tyrone made far too many elementary mistakes. They gave up possession far too easily and had far too many poorly placed passes. In addition to this they lost out on many of the key man to man battles while their tackling was uncharacteristically poor resulting in an unacceptably high foul rate. In terms of breakball Monaghan were much hungrier and sharper to it than Tyrone were. In fairness the conditions contributed to some of these statistics but if Tyrone are to be successful this year, either in provincial or All Ireland series then a similar performance to today’s would not be good enough. The Red Hands have plenty to work on and improve upon and fortunately they have plenty of time to address the issues that today’s game raised. Tyrone should be stronger the next time out with various players returning from injury but it may be time to make one or two big calls regarding team selection because whether people want to face up to it or not, changes are required.