Wednesday 20 March 2019

Tyrone set to burst bubble

Harte's bench gives Red Hand edge

Substitute Harry Loughran scores Tyrone’s first goal past Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton during last weekend’s match
Substitute Harry Loughran scores Tyrone’s first goal past Donegal goalkeeper Shaun Patton during last weekend’s match
Mickey Harte

On the day they were dismantled with the precision of a surgeon and the mercy of an executioner by Dublin in last year's All-Ireland semi-final, Jim Gavin brought Paul Flynn, Kevin McManamon, Eoghan O'Gara and Diarmuid Connolly off his bench.

Michael Darragh Macauley and Bernard Brogan meanwhile, never even got their boots dirty.

Mickey Harte used his full allowance of six subs that day, two of which came on before half-time, yet the only tangible output from any of them was the single point scored by Declan McClure.

If there is an obvious area where Tyrone have undergone noticeable improvement since then, it's in the contribution of their attacking substitutes.

Against Donegal, Harte's bench scored 2-5.

Against Dublin in Omagh's narrowed confines, they helped out with 0-4 from Tyrone's tally of 0-14.

Kieran McGeary and Harry Loughran almost pulled Tyrone level that day while the return to fitness of Lee Brennan, who had been Tyrone's top scorer during the League, only deepens Harte's options.

"There are people who didn't start the (Donegal) game who are worthy to be on the team but they are also big enough to play for the team and come in knowing that they're going to make a difference," Harte explained.

"If you started them, you wouldn't be sure that the people that you would be leaving off could come in and make the same impact."

There have been other areas of improvement also.

Niall Sludden has taken over as Tyrone's most dangerous ball carrier, surpassing the influence of Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly.

Michael McKernan meanwhile, would be a strong shout for Young Footballer of the Year were it not for the stunning form of both the similarly-eligible Brian Howard and David Clifford.

So if the question is: are Tyrone any better equipped to win an All-Ireland than they last year, the answer has to be, yes.

Monaghan meanwhile, seem as primed to crack their glass ceiling now as they were in 2013 and '15 when they arrived to Croke Park as Ulster champions and had their hearts broken by Tyrone.

They were outstanding in the 'Super 8s' in all but the last, blurry minutes of that draw with Kerry in Clones.

Rory Beggan's kick-outs have given them a massive advantage over every team they've played this year while they retain one of the fiercest defences in the game.

And it's true also that Monaghan beat Tyrone in Omagh in Ulster, are on the crest of a wave of national admiration and inner confidence and have a settled team with more attacking options than they are customarily given credit for.

But that's exactly the sort of bubble Tyrone like to burst.

It's just what they do.

And with this added impetus from reserve, Harte's team have a noticeable edge over Malachy O'Rourke's.

ODDS: Tyrone 8/11, Draw 7/1, Monaghan 13/8


Promoted articles

Entertainment News