Kevin Cassidy

Tyrone collective was too effective

THERE are times in life when you just have to hold your hands up and admit that you were wrong.

Like most others, I got last weekend’s semi-final prediction completely wrong. I did say I felt that Tyrone would come out with serious fire in their stomachs after the whole Covid situation, but I did not think that they had that level of performance in them for 70 minutes let alone extra-time on top of that.

Massive credit to Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher for keeping things together in what must have been a very difficult period in terms of trying to prepare your team as best you can, while also making sure no more players are affected.


Kerry simply were not ready for what Tyrone brought to the table and there really is no excuse for that because everyone knew exactly what was coming down the tracks.

I’m sure this week in Kerry serious question marks will hang over the Kingdom management given their inability to prepare for the war that was coming.

Part of that could be down to the route that Kerry had to the semi-final. If we take the two league games, Kerry won both games by 10-plus points without having to come out of third gear and then the Munster Championship campaign was a cakewalk.

I suppose in hindsight, given the intensity that Tyrone brought to the table, Kerry were simply lambs to the slaughter. Kerry’s two big men – David Clifford and Sean O’Shea – carried the fight but in reality there was no one else coming behind and Tyrone simply wore them down with their ferocious intensity and work rate.

Once Clifford failed to reappear for extra-time, I think the writing was on the wall for the Kerry players and although they had a go and more players chipped in with scores, Tyrone had simply too much hunger and their collective was way more effective than Kerry’s individual talent.

You could go right through that Tyrone team starting with Morgan at the back and to a man they delivered when needed but for me, and I keep saying it week-on-week, I think Tyrone are a different animal when Cathal McShane. Darragh Canavan and Conor McKenna are on the pitch at the one time.

McKenna probably had a quiet game by his standards but his contribution on the scoreboard was massive and the way he executed those two goal chances was sheer class.

Canavan, with his intelligent running, created space for himself which led to Cathal McShane’s goal. That, for me, was a massive score at that time. What can you say about the big man McShane? His presence alone on the edge of the square causes chaos and then when you look at his contribution on the scoreboard he is a massive player for this Tyrone team.

I fully understand that the Tyrone management know these players better than I do and perhaps they leave the likes of Canavan on the sideline until players are a little tired and the game stretches, but for me looking in when these three players are on the pitch at once Tyrone are a serious threat.

These Tyrone players now have a massive two weeks until they lock horns with Mayo, and although the Tyrone camp have already come out and made Mayo favourites I believe that deep down they will know that this is a huge opportunity to land another title.

Mayo will pose a different type of challenge in that they will be able to match Tyrone’s hunger and ferocity in the tackle but we will look at that in more detail next week.

After all we have been through over the last 18 months, it’s great to see an Ulster team in the final. Tyrone will go into full carnival mode now and it will help lift the spirits and that is fantastic to see.

Things are a little chaotic here in Donegal in terms of club football at the minute with the news last week that the delayed 2020 county final must be replayed next week.

Kilcar lodged an appeal based on the evidence that Naomh Conaill used too many subs in extra time and the CCC ruled in their favour and ordered the game to be replayed. This is something that the county, and indeed both of the clubs involved, could be doing without giving that our championship is due to start next weekend.

The final itself was delayed nearly nine months due to the Covid situation and that must have been a torture for both sets of players who are trying to stay focused. Now after it has been played they must try and refocus again for the game next week. Like I said, it is something that everyone could have done without but rules are rules.

I just hope that it won’t cause any lasting animosity between both clubs as this has been a difficult time for all involved.

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