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Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: Tyrone’s good timing

AT the start of the championship most people would have predicted the last four teams that we have left standing.

Dublin were always going to win Leinster, Mayo only had to see off the challenge of Galway to become kings of Connacht and the Kingdom were always going to come back fighting this year after Cork stunned them last season.

For most people, the difficult part would have been to predict who would become Ulster champions but I said way back at the start of the year that I felt Tyrone would be hard stopped the season.

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Before we look back on last week’s games, let’s look forward to the two amazing games that are coming up next weekend.

Every man, woman and child in Tyrone will remember how they felt as the league scoreline filtered through the country, so you can be sure that the Red Hands will seek revenge when they face off against Kerry.

Likewise in the other semi-final, Mayo hearts have been broken on so many occasions by this Dublin team so with all the talk of Dublin’s dominance being on the slide they may see this as the perfect opportunity to get one over on the old nemesis.

I seriously cannot wait for those two contests as I really do believe they will be two tight and intense games of football.

We will look more into both games next week and pick apart how each team may get at each other, but at this point in time it really is all to play for.

Last weekend’s action was a bit of a mixed bag but I suppose we were all expecting that. The Tyrone versus Monaghan encounter was enthralling from start to finish. I was working in Teach Mhici for the game and we were joined by Donegal rock Neil McGee and Derry legend Johnny McGurk.

As the two lads sipped on their beers watching the game, you could see the legs twitching with every play and I chuckled to myself as I realised that there is no walking away from this game as we will all kick every ball in every game we sit and watch until our last day on this earth. I have no doubt in my mind that both Johnny and Neil would have fancied their chances and if given the nod they would gladly have run onto that pitch to play as the fire still burns bright deep inside.

On the game itself, Tyrone were deserving winners although once Monaghan sit back and dissect the game they will no doubt be kicking themselves at some of the opportunities they left behind.

Great credit must go to Monaghan GAA as they have endured a tough few weeks off the pitch, but the way they carried themselves on the pitch is a great credit to themselves and their families.

I watched the u-20 final on Friday night and it was heart-breaking stuff for that young Monaghan team. They turned in a heroic performance but in the end they just fell short against an extremely well-coached Down outfit.

Now that things have settled down on the GAA front, it will allow those young men time to grieve and to mourn the loss of their dear friend and team mate.

That mourning and grieving cannot be underestimated and it’s something that these lads will have to go through in order to come out the other side.

We wish them all the very best and we look forward to seeing these young lads make the step up next year to play senior football for Monaghan.

From a Tyrone point of view, Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher will be extremely happy with their first Ulster title as managers of the senior team, but now they have a fantastic opportunity to make a real statement on the national stage.

Tyrone are building nicely and perhaps their injuries are clearing up just at the right time. I said to you last week that I felt that if Tyrone could get Cathal McShane, Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan on the pitch at once then they would be very hard to beat.

That is another game under their belt and with two weeks to the next outing, these lads may just be coming back to full fitness at the perfect time.

Like I mentioned earlier, that league defeat will drive this group of players over the next two weeks and as a player that is exactly how you want to go into a game – wanting to prove that that particular game was a once off.

The Leinster final went pretty much as we expected with Dublin easing to yet another title. A lot of the talk after the game was that Dublin didn’t look as ruthless as they have done in the past but, for me, their season starts now.

I’m looking forward to what they bring to the semi-final in two weeks’ time. At the minute for me it’s a Kerry versus Dublin final but stranger things have happened.

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