TEAM THAT MALACHY IS BUILDING CAN BE A GREAT ONE

9 August 2013 No Comments by The Northern Standard

BY ADRIAN HARTE

I would prefer even to fail with honour than win by cheating”. There’s no record of Sophocles lining out as a corner-back for Attica in ancient times, so the Greek playwright – who also knew all about sour grapes after choking to death on some – may not have had Gaelic football in mind when he penned his famous line, but his words ring true this week after Monaghan’s controversial All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Tyrone.

The reality is that there is little left of honour in sport or indeed life. But, nonetheless, the manner of Monaghan’s exit and Seán Cavanagh’s goal-denying rugby tackle on Conor McManus left as bitter an aftertaste as the rushed last pints before throw-in from the massed Monaghan fans in the hostelries around Croke Park.

Mickey Harte created one of the game’s greatest teams in the 2000s, and they had no greater admirers than their southern neighbours. They had wonderful players in Peter Canavan, Brian McGuigan, Brian Dooher, the late, great Cormac McAnallen and Philip Jordan, plus current stars Stephen O’Neill and Seán Cavanagh Harte revolutionised the game in terms of tactics and preparation.

The 2013 team is a shadow of their great sides and Mickey Harte knows it. Hence the new Tyrone template: stopping the opposition at all costs; lacking forward talent and overly reliant on Cavanagh’s exceptional ability. Tactical fouling is nothing new in GAA, but Tyrone have taken the “art” to new depths this year. One rugby tackle, such as Cavanagh’s or O’Neill’s efforts against Tyrone, or Peter Harte’s or Cavanagh’s on Saturday, could be dismissed as an act of desperation, but the systematic nature of the tackling is redolent of a deliberate philosophy.

If Cavanagh had not intervened, McManus would surely have scored a goal, and Monaghan would have been in the lead for the first time since the 24th minute. Should Cavanagh have been sent off? Most pundits say Cormac Reilly did not have that option, as there ….

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