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ASK THE EXPERTS: Monaghan v Tyrone

TOMMY FREEMAN – MONAGHAN

I HAVE been very impressed with Monaghan, particularly their running game. The game has reverted to a more traditional game with attacking at pace. The blanket defence is still there slightly but it is not as bad as it used to be. There is more attacking football now.

I have been impressed with the lads who have been there for a while like Ryan McAnespie and Karl McConnell, they never seem to stop. They are attacking from wing-back and put their men on the back foot. That is where Monaghan have been getting a lot of success from.

Young Michéal Bannigan and Stephen O’Hanlon have impressed as well. Not only in attack, they have brought defending into their game and are tracking back.

They have a reliable man inside in Conor McManus but Jack McCarron is playing very well too.

That being said Monaghan have improved in terms of scoring. At half time in the Ulster semi-final there were eight different scorers, and by full time there were 13 different scorers. That is a great thing for Monaghan.

Conor McManus has long been their main scoring threat, and still is, but they are not as reliant on Conor as they once were. The worry in the past was if Conor was being double-marked, or treble-marked, where were the scores going to come from? That has changed. There are a lot of boys who are fit to take on the scores.

I have looked at Tyrone, Mattie Donnelly played very well against Donegal. It was his best game all year and all you need is one game to get going. We all know how good Mattie Donnelly is.

Darren McCurry is a man I really rate. I don’t think he has received the recognition that he deserves. He has one of the sweetest left foots in the game.

Then you saw Conor McKenna coming on and the runs that he was making. Then you also have the All-Star Cathal McShane to come in. Frank Burns has been good as well, and I have been very impressed by Kieran McGeary as well. So they have a lot of talented players and Tyrone look like they are coming at the right time.

I don’t think that the game will be as open as the Monaghan-Armagh game. Tyrone will have looked at the Monaghan-Armagh game and they will think that they can get at Monaghan. They will sit back and try to hit them on the break.

I am confident of a Monaghan win though. Yes they have conceded scores, and given away leads. But while they have given away leads they have not panicked. They kept plugging away. They got their scores and won their frees and got across the line.

I just hope they don’t allow as many scores.

ROGER KEENAN – TYRONE

IF the weather continues in the way it has been, then I expect the game will be something similar to what we seen with Monaghan and Armagh, and Tyrone and Donegal.

I expect a 50-50 game. Monaghan have unearthed some gems. Their biggest threat is that they have strength and depth on the bench. You have Conor McCarthy, Kieran Duffy, Jack McCarron, so they are no longer completely dependant on Conor McManus even though he can play his part. They have experienced players who can deliver when the fat is in the frier.

I think Tyrone did well against Donegal. I think certain things fell for them, but they took advantage and did what had to be done.

There are a lot of important match ups. Who picks up Jack McCarron? Who picks up Kieran Duffy? Does Conor McManus start? Killian Lavelle is a colossus for Monaghan, and they are no longer completely dependant on Kieran and Darren Hughes.

I think Tyrone are better than the side that played in Killarney (Tyrone lost 6-15 to 1-14 against Kerry in the league). Feargal (Logan) and Brian (Dooher) will be happier now.

To beat the Ulster champions and knock out Donegal, who were most peoples’ favourites, puts them in a good place.

The one good thing that they have done is to find something that resembles a midfield. That is something that we haven’t seen in quite a while. Conn Kilpatrick looks like a natural midfielder. He hits the ground running. He adds athleticism to that area of the field. We haven’t had an athletic midfielder for a long time.

We are have a lot of brilliant Tyrone players at 5”10’ or 5”11’. We are creating what we have always created, good, fast players. I think the game has changed from that, but I am not saying there is room for them.

What I am saying there is room for a mix and a balance. I think with Kilpatrick and Brian Kennedy playing better then that can afford you more players of a lesser stature.

You can’t afford to have too many small players, Particularly when you have Darren McCurry who is on fire, you can’t throw on another small player.

Tyrone are looking sharp, and are looking good and the dry weather suits them.

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