Wednesday 21 August 2019

Colm O'Rourke: 'Harte and his team will already be planning ahead after outclassing Rossies'

Heart, bravery, guts and loyal fans not enough to thrive in the Super 8, writes Colm O'Rourke

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Photo: Sportsfile
Colm O'Rourke

Colm O'Rourke

The first half in Dr Hyde Park was one of cat and mouse. Both sides took turns at being the cat as each gave up the kick-outs and then tried to break through the massed ranks of defenders.

Roscommon succeeded very well with this early on. They had runners like Enda Smith taking the ball at pace, often soloing through for scoring chances. On one occasion his shot for a goal was well saved by Niall Morgan but he was upended after kicking and it should have been a penalty.

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It certainly would have been given anywhere else on the pitch.

Smith was dangerous attacking but indisciplined in defending. He gave away two bad frees in the first half which were converted. With Roscommon working hard, the last thing they needed was to give Tyrone soft frees.

Niall Sludden, who has been struggling a bit to find form recently, helped himself to three points from play. It looked as if Roscommon had tagged what they thought were the key players and left Sludden with a bit more space. He made them pay. Tyrone should have pressured the Roscommon kick-out into the wind but the straitjacket in a tactical sense has only been loosened a little. So Darren O'Malley was put under no pressure until the second half when a complete mess-up with a short one should have led to a goal. Peter Harte rattled the bar soon after.

If Tyrone had any illusions that Roscommon would be a soft touch they were put to bed in the first half.

The tackling was fierce but a lot of players were going down easily and staying down far too long. The referee was having a difficult job and even Mickey Harte was getting exercised on the line. With about a third of the game to go the pace dropped completely. The evening was warm and Roscommon were not able to live with the pace of the Tyrone players around the middle third. Despite being willed on by a huge and passionate following, Roscommon's limitations were exposed and the Super 8 is not destined to be their friend again. To win big games in good weather conditions they would need to score about 1-17; their return of 0-13 shows how short they are.

On top of heart, bravery and sheer guts there is a need for a bit of class.

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Roscommon are not behind in the first three categories but lacked the class of Tyrone. With Conor Cox shut out, the scoring return dipped and there was no other forward to carry the load. Roscommon are also short a couple of man-markers, one to take the likes of Cathal McShane in the full-back line and another to sacrifice their own game to curb the influence of a playmaker like Mattie Donnelly. Tyrone are well able to do it.

When Tyrone sensed danger after Roscommon got to within a point early in the second half, the response was telling - five points in a row and they held possession easily thereafter.

Donnelly controlled the game from midfield and McShane showed for everything - he won most ball played to him and scored easily from play and frees.

In truth, Tyrone won a bit more easily than the four-point margin.

Tyrone will not take anything for granted but they will be planning ahead. They will expect to beat Cork and the game against Dublin will decide who plays who in the semi-final.

Things have not really changed.

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