10 June 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

When it is examined in the cold light of day this is a game that Monaghan could have won given the trend that the contest took and the prevailing conditions. On the other hand it is a game that Monaghan possibly could have lost by more given that they were forced to play over half of the match with 14 players and there were also a number of Monaghan players who simply struggled to get into the game.
The loss of Dick Clerkin some six minutes before half-time not only robbed Monaghan of one of their most consistent performers but it also meant that the team had lost its leader and it wasn’t until they got into the dressing-room at half-time that they were able to regroup and refocus. Having come into the game somewhat under the radar with no great burden of expectation on their shoulders Monaghan settled to the task well and in fact dominated the opening quarter.
Even in that fluid period though they were committing the type of errors that are were going to cost them dearly with misdirected passes, giving away line balls direct from kick outs and on occasions too the support not arriving in time for the player in possession.
That said though Monaghan took the lead on three occasions in the opening quarter and probably could have been further ahead than the one-point margin they enjoyed after 16 minutes when another glaring mistake set Tyrone up for a goal that put them in the lead for the first time and more importantly a score that injected a new momentum and a new confidence into their play. Following the concession of the goal good possession was again squandered which resulted in a ‘45 that was converted and within the space of four minutes Tyrone had come from being a point behind to going three in front.
At this stage the early fluency that Monaghan had shown had faded somewhat with players now crowded out in possession, Tyrone chasing and harrying and affording little time on the ball all of which added to a growing sense of frustration in Monaghan’s play and an improving confidence and fluency in Tyrone’s approach.
While the opening quarter saw Monaghan produce some good football the same cannot be said of the second quarter as they failed to score from the 14th until the 35th minute, a barren period of 21 minutes during which time Tyrone registered 1-4.
That period was also a time too when Dame Fortune certainly did not smile on Monaghan with a plethora of questionable decisions by the referee adding to Monaghan’s growing sense of frustration.
This was a time too when Monaghan thoughts would have turned to if only some of the players who are missing or are unavailable had been there because ultimately Monaghan lacked the same degree of experience that Tyrone had particularly down the spine of the team.
Conor Gormley kept Paul Finlay reasonably subdued in open play but Tyrone were very fortunate that one of the three markers they deployed to try and contain Conor McManus did not suffer the same fate as Dick Clerkin but then perhaps reigning champions tend to get the benefit of the doubt in marginal situations.
The depth of talent available on the bench in either camp that was also in contrast with Tyrone able to introduce experienced campaigners like Owen Mulligan and Kevin Hughes at a time when they needed to contain a resurgent Monaghan in the second-half. All those things had a bearing on the ultimate outcome in a game that produced some passages of excellent football even allowing for the atrocious conditions but a game too that degenerated into a niggly bad tempered affair at times.
Full story in The Northern Standard

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