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Tyrone's shortcomings magnified in ruthless Division One

By Declan Bogue

Never again will I accept the theory from Tyrone fans that they were cheated out of an All-Ireland title in 1995.

It has become commonplace for Red Hands devotees to blame that one-point loss in the final to Dublin as solely the responsibility of match day referee Paddy Russell for failing to ensure Charlie Redmond left the field after attempting to headbutt Tyrone's Feargal Logan.

It has entered into legend how Redmond remained on the pitch until a linesman alerted Russell soon after, and then he managed to convey to the Erin's Isle man that his evening was in fact over.

There were 25 minutes of the game left. I caught a re-run of the game on the excellent eir sport on Monday during a spot of idle channel-hopping.

It was only the second time I had watched it.

The first was as a teenager sitting with my uncle watching the first half in the Nally Stand bar in Tempo, moving up the street to the Milltown Manor for the second half.

I was younger then, and a few pints had me on my ear, truth be told.

Watching it back in the cold light of day on Monday, I kept an eye out for the performance of Peter Canavan. What shocked me was that, although they were a man up, they couldn't get the ball out of their defence. Kickpasses were hoofed up the field with the only thought given to how long they could propel the ball.

It took them 23 minutes of that second half to get the ball into Canavan's hands. That was the winning and the losing of the game right there.

Anyway, thoughts were turning to the present Tyrone attack and their scoring woes in Castleblayney last Saturday night, when they only managed six points from play over the course of 77 minutes of play.

No team are examined as much as Tyrone, but how do you measure the present side against the side that have set scoring records for their last two Ulster-winning campaigns?

Does it all come down to the effects of playing a running game with a dry ball, rather than a greasy ball on a slippy pitch?

Division One is a cruel environment, and shortcomings are shown up week on week.

But it is the only place Tyrone are going to come to terms with what they need to do in order to beat a genuine All-Ireland contenders, something that the Mickey Harte detractors would remind us they have not managed to do in quite a few years.

Could it be that they have too many players playing within themselves, as they did for the first miserable half hour against Monaghan before they started taking the odd risk?

This Saturday night, at home to Donegal, will tell us plenty.

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