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GAA Comment: Tyrone on a par with Dublin and Kerry in race for Sam

 

By Declan Bogue

Wow. Just, wow. Before we examine what a performance of this level does to a team, indulge us enough to allow a few observations about the game in general.

Tyrone had six clear goal opportunities. None of them could be termed a half-chance. They are a side that attacked the most fearsome defence in the country with verve and on another day, the scoreline could have read 5-21.

Little wonder that during an interviewer's post-game question, Mickey Harte began to grin widely when he thought he was going to be asked about their lack of goals during the league and the perception that Tyrone are too frigid to get majors.

Nobody could have known the kind of display they were to deliver.

Least of all, Joe Brolly who appeared on the sideline for RTÉ and gave it his greatest hits, including that tired riff about Tyrone forwards, pointing out that they have nobody of Michael Murphy's quality.

READ MORE: Tyrone boss Harte purring over standout performances while Gallagher turns his gaze to a route less travelled

But Murphy has been a midfielder now for several seasons. And Tyrone have now amassed 1-43 in two Ulster Championship games. Where does it put them in the race for Sam? Up there. But there is an Ulster final to be played next month first.

In this newspaper last week, Donegal's retired midfielder Rory Kavanagh said he felt he himself had cost the team in the final against Tyrone because his legs were shot.

With six lads making their first Championship appearance against Tyrone, Donegal hopes were that Tyrone couldn't live with that kind of youth and pace.

Last year, Clones was No Country for Old Men, this time it resembled Alan Hansen's famous quote that; 'you'll win nothing with kids.'

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Changing players is one thing, but trying to alter everything that made you successful in the first place was an enormous risk from manager Rory Gallagher.

He spent the first quarter roaring himself hoarse from the sideline, issuing instructions for defenders such as Frank McGlynn and Neil McGee to drop another 10 yards deeper.

At one point, McGlynn answered back, pointing out the presence of a sweeper already in place.

What makes it doubly confusing is that after the game, Gallagher stated, "I thought we defended too deep and we invited Tyrone on too much and we paid the penalty in the 10 minutes before half time."

It was because they were pressing high that they left so many holes in defence.

Donegal have other questions to answer. What happened Ryan McHugh? Michael Murphy was superbly policed in turn by Padraig Hampsey and occasionally Colm Cavanagh, who showed that the art of the high fetch is not gone.

But anyway, Tyrone.

This sends out a signal that they are operating on a level with Kerry and Dublin.

No mistake.

There are signs of slippage in the Dublin team over the National League and they are displaying the narkiness of champions who are trying to do that little bit more to garnish victories.

Sometimes winning is not enough.

Monaghan or Down await in an Ulster final.

Tyrone may still not have one of the finest forwards in the game, but they have found another way of managing all that anyway.

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