Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport GAA

Harte hails his boys' first half blitz

Tyrone 0-14 Monaghan 0-10

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone maintained their unbeaten run in Division One on Saturday, doing enough in the first half against Monaghan to afford to more or less sleepwalk through the second half and still claim the points.

Even though the margin was 0-9 to 0-2 at the break and Monaghan lost both Fintan Kelly and Dermot Malone to red cards shortly after the resumption, Malachy O'Rourke's men dragged themselves back to within a goal of their neighbours.

For Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, it's nothing that hasn't been seen before.

"It's the classic case of when you have an extra man, then everybody nearly decides to be that extra man," he explained.

"Then when they had two players sent off, we had people thinking we had two men as free as a bird here. So it's very difficult to legislate as the game is going on."

Even though Monaghan were chasing the game, they maintained a heavy presence in defence, leaving to prolonged periods of Tyrone playing keep-ball in the middle of the park.

Unprompted, Harte commented about how dead the game became at times, stating, "It mightn't have been pretty there for three or four minutes at different stages of the game. But we had the choice of carrying the ball into a nest of players and likely getting robbed or turned over, or keeping possession out on the field and asking them to come out.

"That may not look pretty, but what do you think we should do, should we go in there and lose the ball? Or keep it out the field, even though it is not what people come to see? That's life."

Monaghan lacked the bit of dash from Darren Hughes - kept out because of a confirmed concussion last week as manager Malachy O'Rourke admitted - while Conor McManus was kept scoreless from play by Ronan McNamee.

One aspect of Tyrone's performance that will surely worry them is their continued lack of goals, even though they had a glut of opportunities here.

Mattie Donnelly, operating at full forward, hit the post with a drive. Peter Harte sliced a penalty wide and a chance of a tap in for Donnelly was spoiled by too much weight on the pass causing it to float wide; all in the first half.

In the second half when they were placed under a measure of pressure by accurate place kicking from Oriel goalkeeper Rory Beggan, they had a chance to bury the visitors when they outnumbered them on a break. However, Ronan O'Neill took the wrong option when they could have walked the ball into the net.

After their three opening league games, they have just one goal, that coming from defender Aidan McCrory.

After a three-week break, there was a chance Tyrone could have been rusty here, but all their good football came early on.

"I was pleased with the first 35 minutes. It would have been easy to be stale if you like, because they were coming off the back of a good result and we hadn't played last week," added Harte.

"You could be thinking, 'we could be stale here', that they mightn't be up for the game in the right way. But I would have to say I was really happy with how we were in the first half."

Malachy O'Rourke's assessment afterwards began, "The first half, we had plenty of the ball but we weren't purposeful enough on the ball.

"Second half, we would have to take a lot out of it. At the same time we are not stupid either. We know that Tyrone were six or seven points up, up a couple of men, you are bound to take your foot off the pedal. That probably came into the equation as well."

As for the sending offs, he pleaded the fifth.

"I wasn't close enough to them to know exactly what. I know people sitting closer to them said that they were harsh enough. There's no point in me saying anything, it won't be until I see the video that I would be able to say a considered opinion on it."

For Harte, it was all about the bottom line as they look ahead to Sunday's refixture against Cavan.

"The ultimate thing is that we have two league points from this and we have five now, not three," he said.

"If we had have lost this game they would have been on seven and we would have been on three.

"We would be looking at a relegation battle and they would have had one foot in the league final.

"Thankfully, we are toe to toe with them at the moment."

TYRONE: O'Neill; Hampsey, McNamee, McCarron; McCann 0-2, McMahon 0-1, McGeary; Cavanagh, D McClure; Meyler 0-1, Burns 0-1, Harte 0-4, 2f; McCurry 0-2, Donnelly, O'Neill

Subs: S Cavanagh 0-3, 1f, for Donnelly (Blood sub, 15-22), McShane for Burns (46), Cavanagh for McClure (51), Brennan for McMahon (56), McCann for O'Neill (58), McCrory for McCarron (60)

MONAGHAN: Beggan 0-2f; Kelly, D Wylie, R Wylie; Duffy, McAdam, McAnespie; Coyle, Hughes 0-2; Kerr, Malone, Doogan; O'Connell, McCarron 0-4, 2f, 1x'sideline', McManus 0-2, 1f, 1x'45'

Subs: Ward and McCarthy for Duffy and Kerr (half-time), Gollogly and J Mealiff for Doogan and McAnespie (64)

Referee: Paudie Hughes (Armagh)

Attendance: 5,635

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph