DISAPPOINTMENT FOR MICKEY HARTE’S MEN AS MINORS KEEP THE TYRONE FLAG FLYING
There was huge disappointment among all Tyrone supporters following their team’s defeat to Dublin in Croke Park last Saturday.
Not only did we fail to make it past the quarter finals for the fourth time but we also missed a huge opportunity to add another All Ireland Senior title to our list of honours.
Following Kerry’s exit in the first quarter final of the day the feeling among those in the press area was that this was very much Tyrone’s All Ireland to lose. Funny thing was I remembered hearing something similar in 2004 after Armagh had just lost to Fermanagh and we all know what happened that day. Another case of déjà vu unfortunately.
Still it was not all doom and gloom for the followers of the O’Neill County as our minor squad showed that they were more than worthy provincial champions with a comprehensive victory over a highly fancied Kerry team. Raymond Munroe’s young side has shown considerable improvement with each game and their display on Saturday, which was the first time for many of them to play at Headquarters, showed they are developing into a very very good team. Munroe and his colleagues can now look forward to facing their old adversaries Mayo in the semi final in a couple of weeks time. A similar display to Saturday last and this team could well be on their way to qualifying for the All Ireland Minor Final for 2010.
The chances of another double winning year were high as Mickey Harte and his team went into their game at the weekend in confident mood following their impressive showing in the Ulster Final. Unusually for Tyrone they were facing a Dublin side as favourites for the first time in recent memory and the general consensus was that in spite of a couple of victories in the qualifiers, Tyrone would have too much in the tank for a side short on experience and still very much in the process of rebuilding.
I was in Croke Park the previous week to watch this newly built Dublin side take on neighbours Louth and was hugely impressed by what I had seen particularly in the first half. The team itself had changed considerably from the side beaten so easily by Kerry in last year’s quarter final and on the evidence of their run in the qualifiers it was obvious in their set up that huge planning went into every game and every aspect of it. However they still looked fragile in places but there was no doubting their fitness levels, their organisation, their will to win and the fact that in the two Brogans and Eoghan O’Gara the Dubs had three forwards playing without pressure and at the top of their games.
Saturday’s game must have been a joy for the neutrals and for all supporters of football in the capital. Dublin started the game well and although Tyrone went in at half time leading, it was Pat Gilroy’s side that were on top for most of the opening thirty five minutes. However they must have been counting their blessings when Tyrone corner forward Martin Penrose struck the bar with virtually the last kick of the first half. A four point deficit would have been hugely significant and would have changed the half time team talk considerably in both changing rooms.
Dublin carried the greater threat up front and Tyrone were struggling to cope with Bernard Brogan and his colleagues and the threat they posed. Ulster Final star Cathal Mc Carron was called ashore and Joe Mc Mahon was detailed to cover the free scoring Dub. Unfortunately for Tyrone this deprived them of much of their creative force and with Mc Mahon concentrating on purely defensive duties, his colleagues failed to pick up the slack. As a result on more than one occasion possession was turned over cheaply and attacks petered out.
Unlike in the past Tyrone made too many basic errors, ran down too many blind alleys and generally played second fiddle to their opponents. The statistics from the game will show that Tyrone won a lot of short kick outs but Dublin seemed content to allow their opponents to have possession and even to play as much with the ball as they wanted within their own half. However when they attempted to carry the ball beyond that or to feed their inside forwards the retreating Dublin players had filled most of the holes in their rearguard. This reduced the space for the forwards and increased the need for accuracy and good decision making while in possession. Sadly as the game wore on Tyrone came up short on both fronts and Sean Cavanagh in particular was guilty of some poor wides and erroneous choices while well placed.
In contrast to Cavanagh’s profligacy Owen Mulligan was causing the Dubs serious problems every time he got the ball but far too often the ball was delayed or a speculative shot was taken when Mugsy had managed to find space. You got the feeling that the Dubs full back line were rather in awe of the Cookstown man and we just failed to take advantage of it. Unfortunately for Tyrone Mugsy was the only Tyrone forward who really threatened Dublin and if we were going to win the match we needed the workload shared more evenly. Even the second half introduction of Stevie O’Neill failed to ignite our challenge and once the Dublin goal went in there was only going to be one winner.
You have to give great credit to Dublin of course and to Tyrone man Michael Kennedy who plays a key role in the Dubs preparations as they showed much greater hunger and passion for the game at key times. Michael and his colleagues had their homework well and truly done and had obviously studied the Tyrone game plan in some detail. Weaknesses were identified and exploited but the one big surprise for the Dubs must have been our failure to compete around the middle of the field on our own kickouts. Brian Dooher who is such a specialist on break ball was largely redundant as Tyrone opted to hit all of their kickouts short. Pat Gilroy’s players were happy enough to allow us to gain possession in our half of the field but their willingness to work hard ensured that time and space were of a premium. They knew Tyrone were not going to score from eighty or ninety yards but once the ball was moved forward the men in blue swarmed like Tyrone of 2003 and fought for every inch. Meanwhile when they broke more often than not they found their key forwards and in Bernard Brogan they had the most prolific forward on display.
Brogan ran amok in the league in Omagh and managed to do the same on Saturday. He is rapidly developing into a top quality forward and with his ability to win the hard ball and score, he has helped turn Dublin from also rans into serious contenders for Sam.
It was interesting to note the reactions to Tyrone’s defeat. It tells you something about how successful you are when every other county’s supporters are thrilled to see you losing. That is exactly what I witnessed on Saturday as there seemed to be almost universal delight in the results from both senior games. I doubt if too many people would honestly have put money on Tyrone and Kerry both losing and to add to that the other two provincial champions exited the race for Sam on Sunday. For the first time since the qualifiers began we have four non champions through to the semi finals. Whoever emerges as victors on the third Sunday in September will be the first team other than Tyrone or Kerry to lift the title since 2002. What was surprising and disappointing however was the negative reaction by some supporters and the nonsense that was spoken in the immediate aftermath of the defeat. It is funny how fickle we have become following our recent run of All Ireland successes. Some people have very short memories and like some of the England supporters and BBC reporters we have somehow lost the run of ourselves.
Mickey Harte and his team will take some time to get over this defeat and the significance of it will not be lost on them. There will be much talk about career decisions and retirements but now is not the time for such things. None of these players or anyone involved in the management set up owe us anything and have been a huge part of the best period in Tyrone’s footballing history and we as supporters should be eternally grateful for that.
I would like to believe they will think long and hard before any decisions about the future are taken and all can now get back to playing or watching club football. After all Saturday was just one of those days when we came up against a side that was hungrier and sharper than us and for whom the breaks seemed to run. At one stage in the second half we were two points up and missed four further chances to extend our lead. The game was very much in the balance but for the next few minutes we failed to maintain our grip on the game and lost our impetus. The Dubs seized the initiative and the rest as they say is history. In previous situations like these we have generally come out on top, but Saturday proved to be a bridge too far.
Fortunately we still have the minors to follow and I was massively impressed by the way Tyrone went about their business against Kerry in their quarter final. Defensively they looked solid and Conor Clarke was more than dominant at full back as time and time again he broke the ball from the Kerry forwards. Shea Mc Garrity in particular swept up all around him while young Mc Geary fought manfully for every ball giving his man little respite throughout the game.
Michael Donaghy (left) will remember this game for quite a while for his excellent goal but his overall game was excellent as was that of his half back colleague Niall Sludden. Mind you the industry and endeavour of Stefan Tierney allowed both these guys and Eunan Deeney to venture forward safe in the knowledge that there were no large gaps at the rear as the young Errigal man covered every inch of the pitch.
The midfield duo once again proved to be the platform for much of Tyrone’s best work. They won huge amounts of ball and drove forward at every opportunity. Harry Og Conlon once again displayed deft skill in the finish for his goal and in finding Michael Donaghy for his. Conan Grugan is growing into his role and seems to enjoy the spaces playing in the middle affords him. His use of the ball is excellent and it is fair to say we have two very capable midfielders who are much more than just midfielders as they are also serious scoring threats.
John Mc Cullagh and Ronan O’Neill must be a nightmare for defences with their intelligent running, ability to win the ball, their vision and their natural talent as score getters. O’Neill was on fire on Saturday and just seems to be getting better with each game. Both lads play well together and are comfortable on the ball and with their pace and fitness they are a dream pairing for any manager. They provide a great outlet for the team and Thomas Canavan, Ryan Devlin and Richard Donnelly know that as long as they can provide the ammunition these two guys will either provide the finish or create chances for their team mates.
There is huge hunger and passion about this squad and a fair deal of talent as well. However if the past weekend proved anything it is that talent will only take you so far but determination and commitment are vital ingredients for success.
If Raymond Munroe can continue to keep his squad focused and maintain their drive and determination there is no reason why his team cannot go on and emulate the achievements of the team of 2008. Thus far they have managed to lift an Ulster Title but with the pedigree and worth of the squad they are capable of much more. Mayo will prove to be difficult opposition in the semi final but Tyrone should go into the game in a confident manner knowing that they are well capable of making the final. The danger however is to approach the game with one eye on the final because such an approach could see the season finishing up with regrets over unfulfilled potential. Let’s hope that is not the case.
ALL-IRELAND SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FINAL 2010
Tyrone 0-13 Dublin 1-15
Tyrone’s All Ireland hopes came to a disappointing end at Croke Park on Saturday afternoon when they fell to a five point defeat at the hands of Dublin at the quarter final stage.
Tyrone, aiming for a fifth quarter-final victory in eight seasons under Mickey Harte, went into the game as warm favourites but on the day they kicked themselves out of it as Dublin gained revenge for defeats at the same stage of the championship in both 2005 and 2008. It was a game that Tyrone no doubt left behind them as they kicked an unbelievable seventeen wides over the course of the seventy odd minutes and you can’t afford to do that at any level never mind at this crucial stage of the championship. Credit has to go to Dublin as they put the Red Hands under pressure when shooting most of the time as they gave their best performance of the championship by quite a distance.
Both sides played with a sweeper system but it was Dublin who made more use of the possession that came their way and in Bernard Brogan they had the match winner as he landed nine points, four of which came from play.
Tyrone were very slow to settle and by the twenty second minute they found themselves 0-6 to 0-2 in arrears. They didn’t panic though as they used all their experience to turn things around to lead by the minimum margin at the break but it could have been more.
On the stroke of halftime Brian McGuigan played a superb ball through to Martin Penrose, who would later finish up with five points to his credit, but with only keeper Stephen Cluxton to beat the Aghyaran man crashed his shot off the crossbar for what was to be a major moment in the game.
In the second half Tyrone held a two point lead at one stage but they failed to go further in front despite having numerous chances to do so and that only served to give Dublin a boost as they stayed in contention despite appearing to be on the ropes at times.
With Brian McGuigan and Philip Jordan thumping over superb second half scores, Owen Mulligan’s fifth point of the day ended a spell of Tyrone wastefulness and brought the sides level with six minutes to play.
But, with Bernard Brogan in superb form at the other end, the Leinster men sensed that this was a game that was there for the taking and when substitute Paul Flynn’s shot came back off the post it fell straight into the path of full forward Eoghan O’Gara whose thumping shot to the roof of the net gave Tyrone keeper Pascal McConnell no chance. In the closing stages Dublin tagged on two points as Tyrone’s hopes of a fourth Sam Maguire success ended for another season.
Tyrone – Pascal McConnell, Cathal McCarron, Justin McMahon, Ryan McMenamin, Davy Harte, Conor Gormley, Philip Jordan, Colm Cavanagh, Kevin Hughes, Brian Dooher, Brian McGuigan, Joe McMahon, Martin Penrose, Sean Cavanagh, Owen Mulligan.
Subs – Dermot Carlin for Cathal McCarron, Stephen O’Neill for Davy Harte, Enda McGinley for Kevin Hughes, Peter Harte for Martin Penrose
Dublin – Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimmons, Rory O’Carroll, Philip McMahon, Kevin Nolan, Gerard Brennan, Barry Cahill, Michael Dara Macauley, Ross McConnell, Bryan Cullen, Alan Brogan, Niall Corkery, David Henry, Eoghan O’Gara, Bernard Brogan.
Subs – Paul Flynn for David Henry, Cian O’Sullivan for Barry Cahill, Eamon Fennell for Niall Corkery, Conal Keaney for Alan Brogan, Alan Brogan for Bryan Cullen
Tyrone scorers – Owen Mulligan 0-5, Martin Penrose 0-5, Philip Jordan 0-2, Brian McGuigan 0-1
Dublin scorers – Bernard Brogan 0-9, Eoghan O’Gara 1-0, Stephen Cluxton 0-1, Philip McMahon 0-1, Michael Dara Macauley 0-1, Bryan Cullen 0-1, Alan Brogan 0-1, Conal Keaney 0-1
Referee – David Coldrick, Meath
Attendance – 62,749
ALL-IRELAND MINOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTER FINAL 2010
Tyrone 2-12 Kerry 0-9
Tyrone are through to an All Ireland minor football championship semi final meeting with Mayo after easily sweeping aside the challenge of Kerry at Croke Park last Saturday afternoon.
The Ulster champions went into the game as favourites and they fully justified that tag with an accomplished display that their opponents simply couldn’t deal with. The crucial period of the game came in a three minute spell in the first half when Harry Og Conlon and Mickey Donaghy both struck for goals to give the winners a seven point lead and they never looked back.
Prior to those two strikes it had been an even affair with three Ronan O’Neill frees helping Tyrone lead by 0-4 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter, with Mark Reen and Eanna O’Connor on target for Kerry. O’Neill then set up Conlon for a first time shot to the net and when defender Mickey Donaghy blasted home in the twenty third minute Tyrone were well in control and on their way to a 2-6 to 0-4 halftime lead.
Kerry needed a good start to the second half but the opposite happened as Tyrone outscored them 0-5 to 0-1 in the third quarter with O’Neill, Stefan Tierney and Thomas Canavan on target. Kerry substitute Gavan O’Grady scored a brace of points late on but at that stage it was a case of too little too late.
Tyrone: Mark McReynolds; Shea McGarrity, Conor Clarke, Hugh Pat McGeary; Niall Sludden, Mickey Donaghy 1-0, Eunan Deeney; Conan Grugan, Harry Og Conlon 1-0; Richard Donnelly 0-1, Thomas Canavan 0-2, Ryan Devlin; Stefan Tierney 0-2, John McCullagh 0-1, Ronan O’Neill 0-5
Subs – Dara Donnelly for Donaghy, Padraig McNulty for R Donnelly, Ryan Lynch 0-1 for McCullagh, Enda McGahan for McGeary
Kerry: Damien Horgan; Fearghal McNamara, David Culhane, Andrew Thompson; Chris O’Leary, Laurence Bastible, Jason Hickson; James Walsh, Shaun Keane; Gary O’Leary, Marcus Mangan, Tadhg Morley 0-1; John Moynihan 0-1, Mark Reen 0-3, Eanna O’Connor 0-2
Subs – Gavan O’Grady 0-2 for Keane, Damien Somers for Culhane, Thomas Hickey for Hickson, Eamon Kiely for Bastible, Sean McCarthy for McNamara
Referee – Brian O’Shea, Dublin
ALL-IRELAND MINOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2010
Tyrone captain pleased with progress
If Tyrone are to begin the new decade with an All Ireland football title it will now all depend on the minor side following last weekend’s results at Croke Park.
While the senior team was eclipsed by Dublin the minors turned on the style to record an emphatic 2-12 to 0-9 over Kerry and the Red Hand captain Shea McGarrity was very pleased with how they performed.
“We are very happy to just get through that game because we knew coming into it that it would be difficult, just as it is against any side from Kerry. Everybody knows about Kerry and the quality that they have at every level but we just try to take it one game at a time, every game is a new challenge for us and thankfully it worked out on the day.
“The two goals were crucial going in at halftime although we knew that we had still a big job ahead of us in the second half. Kerry came out after the break and no matter what it was on the scoreboard they made us fight for every ball.”
Despite the double scores victory the Cookstown clubman, who has already savoured All-Ireland glory in Croke Park with his club this year, feels that there are still areas that they can improve on before they face Mayo in the All Ireland semi final on August 22nd.
“There is always something that you can work on. You are never the finished product no matter what the winning margin is in the end. Even with your strong points, you have to go out at the next training session and work on them.
“There is competition for places at training every night and that’s the way you want it because you don’t want people sat in their positions thinking that they have their place nailed down in the team. Everybody has got an equal chance for every match and its just up to ourselves if we want it badly enough.”
ALL-COUNTY LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Trillick 1-7 Coalisland 1-9
Coalisland moved clear at the top of the first division table after this two point success over Trillick at Donnelly Park on Monday evening. The Fianna edged the first half 1-4 to 1-3 with Conor Bayne getting their goal and Paddy McNeice among the points, Eunan McAnespie with Trillick’s goal from the penalty spot. In the second half Richard Donnelly, Niall Gormley, McNeice and Gerard Toner were among the points for their respective sides with the visitors doing just enough to take the spoils.
Carrickmore 3-19 Galbally 0-4
Carrickmore romped to an emphatic win over neighbours Galbally on Monday evening and on the evidence of this poor performance the Pearses could be destined for Intermediate football next season. Finbar Magill, Mark Donnelly and Barry Daly all had first half points for the St.Colmcilles as they led 0-10 to 0-2 at the break, Paul Rafferty with both of Galbally’s points. The one way traffic continued in the second half as the St Colmcille’s won without getting out of second gear with Peadar McMahon, Caolan Daly and Kevin McNally getting their goals.
LADIES FOOTBALL FOCUS
Big games for Tyrone teams
Tyrone ladies face two key weekend games ahead in senior and U-16 All-Ireland competitions, writes Damien Donnelly.
The county seniors play Sligo this Saturday in Mullingar (4.30pm) in round two of the All-Ireland qualifying series, having defeated Leitrim at round one level last weekend.
Sunday sees Tyrone U-16’s take on Dublin in an All-Ireland A semi-final at Longford (2.30pm) as the Red Hand girls endeavour to build on their impressive Ulster winning effort.
The club scene is fairly quiet given those two county games but the closing stages of the various club championships will unfold in due course.
All-Ireland Qualifier Round One
Tyrone 6-22 Leitrim 2-9
Tyrone were always in pole position during this tie at Shannon Gaels Park in Cavan on Sunday.
Joline Donnelly was out through injury on the day but her sister Cathy Donnelly netted two first half goals for Tyrone before adding a third in the last half, the St Macartan’s player also chalking up six points for good measure over the hour.
Aisling O’Kane tagged on two goals and Lynda Donnelly bagged the other one in a composed Red Hand display. It was a good double success for Lynda Donnelly whose brother Dara enjoyed an All-Ireland quarter-final victory over Kerry with Tyrone minors.
A steady run of points from Gemma Begley, Aisling O’Kane, Cathy Donnelly, Sarah Connolly, Shannon Quinn and Catriona McGahan complemented Tyrone’s goals really well.
Aine Tighe did her best for Leitrim and got a second half major after Eimear Glade had goaled in the opening half. Tighe also shot four points but the Connacht girls were chasing the game throughout.