14 February 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Kevin Carney

To paraphrase Mark Twain, it seems that rumours of the death of Tyrone have been greatly exaggerated.

When Monaghan took Mickey Harte’s men apart in round one of the NFL there was a queue of pundits lining up to proclaim that the King is dead, long live the King.

But Tyrone’s surprising 1-11 to 1-7 away win over Mayo last weekend in division one of the league has caused a re-think in some quarters. The obituaries have been put on the back-burner for the time being.

If Mickey Harte was looking for a response to his team’s defeat to Monaghan in Omagh, then his players certainly came up trumps in Castlebar with the words grit, aggression and passion stitched liberally into the O’Neill county’s performance.

Tyrone, unashamedly, went back to basics to carve out their crucial win. The inventors of the blanket defence reverted to type with, at times, all 15 of their number in their own half.

Tyrone’s tactics of defending en masse succeeded in restricting Mayo to just 1-2 from open play over the course of the 70 minutes. On that basis, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see the same again and again and again this year.

In the modern game, players with mighty engines are invariably the first on the team-sheet and last Sunday, we saw a Tyrone crew that were fitter, better conditioned and, all told, better athletes at this juncture of the season than their opponents.

Whether Tyrone’s modus operandi last Sunday is back to stay, time will tell. In fairness to Harte, he knows he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to win. Winning at intercounty level is all that counts, after all.

“We had to put a bit of a blockade in there,” Mickey Harte admitted after the game.

In Cavan right now, there’s not an awful lot of people complaining about the county team’s style of play. Why? Because the Blues have made a better than expected start to their NFL Division Two campaign and their latest outing against Laois last Saturday night was arguably Cavan’s most impressive in years.

Laois are no Tyrone, of course. They’re no Monaghan either. But Cavan showed the type of potential that got them noticed after…


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