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Minors Just Miss Out.

Monday 04.07.2011
Team Talk Mag
Club


It is hard to believe that the only Tyrone representation at the 2011 Ulster Final will be the team of 1986 celebrating their twenty fifth anniversary as provincial champions. Over the past number of years we have become accustomed to being involved in the senior or minor, or both, finals so it will come as a bit of a shock to find that there will be no Tyrone team competing in this year’s show piece games. The old saying about missing the water when the well runs dry might well apply here because even though Mickey Harte has always stressed the value and importance of the Ulster Championship, there is an element of Tyrone folk who don’t share the Errigal man’s views. Perhaps the fact that we failed to reach the Clones showdown might be the first step towards a reality check in terms of our expectations in the future.

Of course the seniors lost out last week against Donegal which meant all our hopes rested on the minors as they lined out to face Cavan in Enniskillen on Sunday night. This young team had been left kicking their heels over the past five weeks as the Cavan players focussed their energies on leaving cert exams. The forty plus players and team managements missed out on the chance of playing in front of a large crowd in the Ulster semi final and had to settle for a smaller audience as they took to the field for the evening game in Brewster Park.

On a fine late summer evening just perfect for football both teams settled quickly and Tyrone had an excellent chance of a goal within the opening twenty seconds when Darren Mc Curry broke through only to be denied by a brilliant stop from O’Mara in the Cavan goals. Tyrone created several other goal chances but failed to capitalise on them and ultimately paid the price for their profligacy. The Red Hands were also punished several times for poor tackling and the conceding of avoidable frees with overzealous and indisciplined play. I am sure when Micky Donnelly reviews a tape of this game he will be livid with how his team lost this game. The Aghaloo man will use this as a learning experience but in terms of defending an All Ireland title it was just not good enough and individually and collectively he knows his team could have done so much better. The team lacked bite and leadership and when it came down to the last few minutes only full back Sean Molloy looked like he was prepared to carry the fight to Cavan.

Interestingly I was asked after the game last night was this the beginning of the end for Tyrone as standard bearers in Ulster underage football. As the man says one swallow does not make a summer, one defeat does not make you a bad side no more than one win makes you a great side. There was always going to be pressure on this bunch of players as they sought to emulate the achievements of 2008 and 2010. In the final analysis Tyrone lost by three points and had they been more composed in the opening half hour they might possibly have won. These players need to learn from this experience and move on. The management needs to do the same but their review needs to be more forensic and ensure that lessons are learned and mistakes that were made this year are not repeated.

I would like to think that we have some tremendous young talent coming through at various ages and the success of the first decade of this century can be repeated. It might be a bit premature to start writing players or teams’ epitaphs just yet and next year could see another bunch of hungry, determined young Tyrone men hell bent on adding to the list of honours already won by the county.

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