Tyrone’s epic three game battle with Down will have an enormous bearing on the outcome of Wednesday night’s Ulster Under 21 semi final with Monaghan. The game in Enniskillen will decide who goes forward to face Cavan in the provincial decider. There are two schools of thought about the game and the potential winners.
There are those who feel the three games Tyrone have already played will be a huge advantage in terms of intensity, preparation and team building. While others believe that the Down games might leave Tyrone tired and jaded coming into the semi final.
Both arguments can be easily made but I tend to weigh in behind the former because nothing sharpens wits or brings players on more than good quality games and that is exactly what Tyrone got from The Mourne men.
However it should be pointed out that Tyrone looked hugely vulnerable at times against Down and Monaghan manager Eamon Mc Eneaney will have noticed that the Red hands are far from the finished article. His own side overcame a much fancied Derry team and have been quietly waiting in the wings while Tyrone busted a gut trying to beat their first round opponents
Mc Eneaney must be hoping those three games will have taken a lot out of Raymond Munroe’s side and that tiredness and fatigue can be exploited by his Monaghan team. This Farney outfit has plenty of quality throughout and several have already gained considerable senior experience this year. Ciaran Duffy of Latton has shown himself to be an excellent man marker and is comfortable playing anywhere in defence. He won’t mind picking up any of the Tyrone attackers and will relish facing Coney, O’Neill or Donnelly.
Dermot Malone, Christopher Mc Guinness, Colm Walsh and Keith Mc Eneaney are other players capable of making big contributions to Monaghan’s cause. Mc Eneaney in particular, who is a nephew of well known referee Pat, is a pacy forward well capable of taking scores and he will need to be watched. He was very impressive when Monaghan and Tyrone locked horns in The Cremartin Cup earlier in the season and will have to be watched closely if Tyrone are to win this one.
The mental challenge could well be the deciding factor because although Tyrone have lots of quality in their team, if they fail to match the will to win of the Farney lads then those three matches against Down will ultimately count for nothing.