Tyrone boss Mickey Harte fixes his sights on old Kingdom foes
all-ireland sfc quarter-final
THOSE who were there for Mickey Harte's post match interview in Croke Park on Saturday night could almost swear to the appearance of a twinkle in his eye when Kerry were mentioned.
And why not?
No team this past 13 or so years has been so proficient in wrecking Kerry's collective heads as Tyrone.
"We'll need to be very hard working and very disciplined if we're going to keep them at bay, to be able to get enough scores ourselves to hurt them," Harte began of the prize now for his team's All-Ireland quarter-final victory on Saturday evening, though you could almost see the mechanics of his celebrated football brain cranking into action there and then.
"So that's a big challenge we have to face over the next couple of weeks, to sharpen that whole defensive unit we have and be aware of where their major threats come from and try and match that with our own attacking play."
One thing we can be absolutely sure of is that when the teams reintroduce themselves to one another on August 23, Tyrone will have a coherent and efficient plan to rust all that attacking Kerry silver.
Whether this team are mature enough or just talented enough quite yet to pull it off, we just can't until then.
They were, however, full value and more for their win on Saturday night and those who witnessed it, in all its gory glory, were left to wonder whether they'd ever seen as hard-working a Tyrone team - ever.
"I think we are developing something of that nature again but you can't compare it to anything else until it does something of that nature," Harte said.
"We are in a decent place, we have hard working players, we have talented players, they haven't the experience of being winners at the top level just yet, so that's the challenge."
Of course, this being Tyrone, they couldn't let the occasion of their re-arrival in the All-Ireland semi-finals go without marking it with at least some controversy.
On 71 minutes, with Monaghan growingly increasingly desperate and visibly frustrated, Tiernan McCann reacted to a ruffle of his hair from Darren Hughes the same way a medium-sized adult might to being struck directly by a bolt of lightening.
Marty Duffy - who had already issued a very questionable black card to Tyrone's Conor Meyler in the first half - wandered over and swallowed McCann's act hook, line and sinker.
"Darren was one of the men at that stage who had the power about him to create gaps for other people and go through himself," rued Malachy O'Rourke afterwards.
Though in truth, Tyrone had this one wrapped up well in advance of the incident and no team is as proficient in the act of sucking all of the football out of the late passages of a match in which they lead as them.
"It was a big blow to lose him at that late stage," O'Rourke concluded.
All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final
SCORERS - Tyrone: D McCurry 0-6 (2f, 1 '45'), C McAliskey 0-5 (4f), M Donnelly 0-2, S Cavanagh, R McNamee, R McNabb, Joe McMahon, P Harte 0-1 each.
Monaghan: C McManus 0-7 (5f), O Duffy 0-2, D Mone, F Kelly, D Clerkin, K Hughes 0-1 each.
TYRONE: N Morgan 7; R McNamee 8, C McCarron 7, R McNabb 7; T McCann 6, Joe McMahon 6, A McCrory 7; C Cavanagh 6, M Donnelly 8; M Bradley 6, P Harte 8, C Meyler 6; D McCurry 7, S Cavanagh 7, C McAliskey 6. Subs: Justin McMahon 7 for Joe McMahon (8 inj), C McCann 6 for Meyler (23 black card), P McNulty 6 for McCann (46), R O'Neill 6 for McAliskey (59), R Donnelly for Bradley (68).
MONAGHAN: R Beggan 7; C Walshe 7, V Corey 6, R Wylie 6; D Mone 6, N McAdam 6, K O'Connell 5; O Lennon 5, F Kelly 6; K Duffy 6, D Hughes 7, S Gollogly 5; R McAnespie 5, K Hughes 6, C McManus 7. Subs: D Clerkin 6 for Lennon (ht), D Wylie 6 for Corey (ht), O Duffy 7 for McAnespie (ht), D Malone 6 for McAdam (49), P Finlay 5 for Gollogly (52), C McGuinness 6 for K Duffy (61).
WIDES - Tyrone: 6 (5 + 1). Monaghan: 7 (5 + 2).
BOOKED - Tyrone: 6 (S Cavanagh 35, Morgan 37, McCann 42, Donnelly 44, McNamee 67, 72). Monaghan: 4 (McAdam 41, K Hughes 45, FInlay 54, 73).
BLACK CARD - Tyrone: 1 (Meyler 23). Monaghan: 0.
SENT OFF - Tyrone: 1 (McNamee 72, 2nd yellow). Monaghan: 2 (D Hughes 71 straight red, Finlay 73 2nd yellow).
REF: Marty Duffy (Sligo).
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mattie Donnelly (Tyrone).