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Kevin Cassidy

KEVIN CASSIDY: Tyrone must hold firm

WE had two totally different Division One semi-finals last weekend, one was a complete annihilation and the second one was more like a challenge match.

Obviously this week all the talk will be about the slick Kerry attack and more worryingly from a Tyrone point of view, the ease at which they were sliced open time and time again.

Before we get into the negatives surrounding the Tyrone set-up, it’s important to note that most teams would have struggled down in Killarney especially the way Kerry have been playing to date. They probably have the most potent attack in the game at the minute and playing them down in their backyard certainly didn’t help matters.

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From a Kerry point of view, they will be extremely happy with their league campaign and it’s clear to be seen that the hurt of last year’s defeat to Cork is driving them on this season. There is no doubt that this Kerry team will have a big say in where Sam resides at the end of the season and going on current form it may well be heading to the Kingdom once again.

Their forward line takes all the plaudits but when looking at the bigger picture there still may be a question mark or two over their defence. I’m sure now when they knuckle down to championship preparations they will focus on that area to improve things even further before the serious action begins.

From a Tyrone point of view, obviously it is extremely disappointing to concede that amount of goals and it goes with the territory that question marks will now hang over their approach to the game, but for me management and players must stand tall.

All the talk last year was about Mickey Harte’s defence-minded approach with the majority of Tyrone Gaels calling for a more positive approach to the game. It’s easy for people outside of the camp to voice their opinions but it’s the people inside the camp who really know what’s going on.

So for me, if a management plays a certain way then there may be a reason behind it.

Obviously now with Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher in charge there is a shift in how this Tyrone team sets up. So naturally this is going to take some time to get used to.

I would hope that after last week’s game the Tyrone management do not change their philosophy and shift away from what they had planned to do with this Red Hand team.

Setbacks happen in sport and sometimes you can learn more from a game like last Saturday than you would if you had won the match.

Tyrone now have a massive game on the horizon as they prepare to take on defending Ulster champions Cavan who themselves suffered a major setback last weekend. So all is to play for over the next few weeks.

I attended the second semi-final between Dublin and Donegal and you could just tell from the outset that the game meant nothing more than a good challenge game to both teams.

Both teams were missing a number of key players but it was the intensity – or rather the lack of intensity – that stood out the most. Both teams would’ve been happy with the run out with a number of players getting game time under their belts, but you couldn’t read too much into how both teams played or the end result.

Dublin are gliding along nicely bearing in mind that their first real test will not come for a number of weeks yet, whereas on the other hand Donegal must be at their best from the off next week as we head to Newry to play Down.

The big worry for Donegal is the amount of injuries that they have at the minute with the likes of Neil McGee, Michael Murphy and Eoghan ‘Ban’ Gallagher sitting out last Saturday night’s game.

Donegal need all of the key men there and when you include the niggles picked up by Odhran MacNiallais and Stephen McMenamin, then it is worrying times for Donegal.

I said here a number of weeks back before the league started that injuries would play a key role in deciding who was successful this summer and the likes of Donegal will be hoping that the injury list clears up before they head into the white heat of championship battle.

One thing we can be certain of, after watching all the league games and all of the divisions over the last few weeks we are in for one hell of an Ulster Championship campaign so let the games begin.

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