Kevin Cassidy


THERE is a lot of talk at the moment with the lack of competitiveness in most of the provincial championships.

This conversation is certainly something that cannot be aimed at the Ulster Senior Football Championship.

After the way they dismantled Derry, Donegal went into last week’s semi-final as raging hot favourites. And, anyone who knows anything about the game knew only too well that Tyrone were never going to lie down and roll over.

I have to admit, I was seriously impressed with this Tyrone outfit and when you bear in mind the amount of key players who are still unavailable to them then you have to admire their performance.

I want to take you back to my article after the first league game this year, when I said that I felt Tyrone would have a serious say in this year’s championship.

A lot of people thought that I was off my head but having watched them that day against Derry I could see how dangerous they were. You could see how powerful they were and if they can get all of their bodies back on the pitch then, mark my words, there are a few scalps in them yet.

I thought they got it spot-on tactically last weekend against Donegal. They took away the threat of the Donegal kick-out over the top. Morgan got his kick-outs spot on and they were extremely patient on the ball.

They identified that these were the three main areas they needed to target in order to beat Donegal and probably should have pulled it off.

When they look back on Sunday, Tyrone will have regrets. They were so close.

Now, they’ll hope to get a few bodies back on the training pitch and build for the All-Ireland series. Take it for me, they are not done yet.

From a Donegal point of you, it was a fantastic win because it came in a different manner how they won the first game against Derry.

Donegal had to dig deep last weekend and they were on the ropes on a number of occasions, but they showed great character and determination to dig their heels in and grind out the result.

Tyrone simply mirrored how Donegal set up. Donegal struggled with that at times and their poor shooting in front of goal didn’t help their cause.

Taking the game into extra-time was massive for Donegal because you just got the feeling that Donegal looked a lot fresher heading towards the latter stages of the contest.

Bearing in mind Tyrone played extra-time the previous weekend, you just felt that Donegal would overpower them in extra-time.

Jim McGuinness will be delighted to reach the Ulster final and he has loads to work on and the training field so that is always was a positive for a coach.

I just want to touch on the style of play for a second because for most of the game on Sunday the team who were defending dropped all of their players back inside the 45-metre line.

We are just coming away from this style of play so I hope to God that teams do not go back down this road. You can be sure that if they do, then the powers that be will change the rules immediately because no one wants to go back to this.

Donegal now have a massive two weeks before they lock horns with old rivals Armagh in the Ulster final so it will give the bodies a chance to recover.

It will be a fantastic occasion for the Donegal supporters who travelled in their thousands to Celtic Park last Sunday. Next week I’ll look at how both teams might go after each other in the decider.

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