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Saturday 10 December 2016

Tyrone to seize upper hand in bitter local battle

In Peter Harte and Tiernan McCann, he has two extremely smooth ball carriers. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
In Peter Harte and Tiernan McCann, he has two extremely smooth ball carriers. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

IT'S very much in-vogue just now to opine that though Donegal may keep up their recent oppression of Tyrone in tomorrow's Ulster final, Mickey Harte's men are the better furnished team to win the All-Ireland.

Why?

Because the Ulster Championship has always been something of a micro-climate in the All-Ireland SFC and while teams obsess about and construct ways to beat each other, it's not always indicative of which is the more rounded.

One only needs to look at the recent and equally obvious example of Monaghan in this regard.

For all the talk that Tyrone are building towards something great, this is Donegal's sixth Ulster final in a row and they've gotten there whilst shedding the 'old men' tag.

Players like Ryan McHugh and Odhrán MacNiallais have become just as vital to their work as Frank McGlynn and Paddy McBrearty and they remain an extremely high-functioning, difficult-to-break-down unit.

They also have Neil McGee back from suspension.

And in Tyrone, Donegal face a team they would love to keep in their box for as long as possible.

Harte's latest team look to have it all. Or at least, most of what you need to be successful at this level.

In Peter Harte and Tiernan McCann, he has two extremely smooth ball carriers.

Colm Cavanagh gives them a physical presence under high ball and with Niall Morgan back between the sticks, they will win a higher percentage of their kick-outs than has been the case in his absence.

It's what Tyrone do in the final third of the pitch that marks them as a team of some substance.

And while there are plenty of football reasons to be hopeful here, there's also the grim fascination that comes when these two meet.

And let's face it, we're not expecting any of the other three provincial football finals to make an appearance on the yet-to-be produced Reeling In the Years 2016.

ODDS: Tyrone 1/2, Draw 8/1, Donegal 2/1

VERDICT: Tyrone

Ulster SFC Final,

Donegal v Tyrone,

Tomorrow, live RTÉ 1 (2.0)

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