Hats off to the county’s senior footballers following their exciting victory over Cork last Saturday night as they gave the supporters a first league win of the 2010 season. With all the other results going the way they did the scrap at the foot of the table looks like being very interesting as the four bottom teams fight it out to avoid the dreaded drop.
The two points were vital on Saturday night in terms of trying to avoid relegation but the victory and the nature of it were every bit as important. It was good to beat Cork in a competitive match as the last twice we played them I thought that we were made look rather ordinary by their pace and physicality.
Our new midfield pairing seemed to work quite well and Aidan Cassidy is showing excellent form. For a guy with so little experience at this level he has not looked out of his depth against any of his opponents and his straight running causes problems for defenders. Tyrone’s third goal on Saturday night was a great illustration of how effective he can be.
The manager will be delighted to have won the match but will also be pleased to see how some of the lesser lights have performed. Eoin Mc Cusker and Mark Donnelly did reasonably well as did Cathal Mc Carron. The experience of playing against such a quality side as Cork will stand these lads in good stead.
Marty Penrose continues to impress with his boundless energy and enthusiasm but he was helped a lot by a better display from Owen Mulligan. Mugsy showed some fine movement and took a few nice scores to add to his reputation but the return of Sean Cavanagh and several other very experienced players to the team will have given the manager greatest satisfaction. They can now approach the Galway game knowing that another win and two points there would set them up well for the visit of the All Ireland Champions Kerry to Omagh.
Cork will be wondering how they managed to let this one slip away as they dominated the game for long stages and could have scored a couple of goals into the bargain. Having come from four points to one down to lead eight-four they could have been forgiven for being a little shell shocked to have found themselves 2-5 to 9 points behind at half time.
Colm Cavanagh’s pin point finish and Tommy Mc Guigan’s goal gave Tyrone something to fight for and in spite of not having the lion’s share of possession and chances Tyrone clung on and Ryan Mellon’s goal secured a hard fought victory. The men from the rebel county faced the long journey home and must have wondered how they managed to leave Omagh with no points.
Psychologically this victory was very important for Tyrone but they are still slightly behind Cork in my view in terms of team development. I also have a feeling both teams will meet again later on in the year and then we will see who has learned most from their last two games against each other.
Micky Harte has now made five changes to the team for the game in Galway but there has been more interest shown in the absence of one player than the inclusion of a couple of new ones. There has been much talk about Enda McGinley leaving the panel and “hanging up his boots” from county football and all sorts of rumour and speculation abound.
I doubt if anyone other than those closest to the decision know the whole story but whatever Enda decides to do he owes nobody anything following his contribution to Tyrone’s success over the past decade. He is a fantastic footballer and a real gentleman and whether he has retired for good or just taken a temporary break we wish him well.
I was surprised to see that Cathal Mc Carron did not manage to retain his place at corner back following last weekend’s display against Cork and with his demotion Ciaran Gourley gets his first league outing of the year. Colm Cavanagh and Aidan Cassidy produced a very solid performance in midfield last weekend against Cork and will face a similar challenge against a Joe Bergin inspired Galway on Sunday. Cassidy has been the one shining light in the team so far this year and another big test awaits him in Galway. However he has shown himself to be a man of confidence and considerable skill and with Colm Cavanagh starting to find some form too this partnership could give Tyrone sway in an area where we have struggled for some time.
Galway will be no easy opponents and are well aware of the importance of two league points at this stage of the campaign. Both sides realise that the winners of this game will take a massive step away from relegation and thus the game promises to be a real tense affair. It also gives Micky Harte another opportunity to lock horns with his old adversary Joe Kernan as the former Armagh man tries to reignite the passion in Galway football.
Tyrone versus Galway games are always close affairs and this one could well be no different. I don’t mind it being close as long as Tyrone come out on top and we can enjoy the long run home from the west with relegation worries easing.