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'Telepathic' trusted old guard show why Harte holds faith

By Ger Houlahan

Tyrone are up and running again with the three-in-a-row Anglo-Celt titles now their target.

The Red Hands put a transitional Farney outfit to the sword ... but only just.

The weather again spoiled the occasion but in reality the game changed around the half hour mark with Brian McGuigan's great team goal and the silly sending off of the Monaghan skipper and their most experienced player, Dick Clerkin.

Tyrone were far from fluid but this was a case of 'mission accomplished'.

Not only did they win with plenty in hand, they also started to bring some new players onto the stage which is an ominous sign for the remainder of Ulster teams.

However, it was the old hands particularly Stephen O'Neill and the impressive McGuigan that did most of the damage.

They regularly opened up a fragile Monaghan team with fast open football and should have scored many more goals. Their movement is almost telepathic and that is probably why Micky Harte is reluctant to retire his veterans.

They soak up pressure when needed, but work so hard to get the ball back as early as possible so that the ball is won as far from their goal as possible, taking pressure off their defence and creating many goal-scoring chances.

Monaghan, for their part, are rebuilding and are missing many so-called regulars, who have given tremendous service to their county.

Ironically, on the same day as Seamus 'Banty' McEnaney began rebuilding an average Meath team, his own county is starting out on its overhaul.

This is a terrible time for players and managers unless you have an understanding fan base and county board.

Eamonn McEneaney would have known the task in front of him but will be surprised at how many and how quickly his players flew the coop!

Over his term, 'Banty' was over-reliant on his group, even when re-building was clearly necessary and they may now be suffering the backlash.

To be fair, Monaghan showed tremendous effort in the face of adversity but are too reliant on free kicks and indeed only scored two points from play yesterday.

They competed for every ball and when they scored the penalty it looked as though they could do the unthinkable.

Tyrone were particularly poor in the second half and didn't make the most of the extra man they had.

As sometimes happens, even the most experienced players switch off and Tyrone must have felt that the game was effectively over at half time.

They will know that they must improve significantly if they are to win three-in-a-row but everyone knows that that will be expected from all concerned.

Belfast Telegraph


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