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Farney lay down marker, but O'Rourke refusing to getting carried away

Monaghan 0-15 Tyrone 0-14

Jack McCarron of Monaghan is tackled by Tyrone’s Padraig Hampsey Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Jack McCarron of Monaghan is tackled by Tyrone’s Padraig Hampsey Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Declan Bogue

Malachy O'Rourke has seen it all in his management career, and he refuses to believe that this narrow win over Monaghan's neighbours can be taken for anything more than face value. Not when he lives in the heart of the county and they face Tyrone again in May in the Ulster Championship.

"We have seen this before, we have had good performances in the league and then in the Championship it is a very different ball game. I have no doubt when we play Tyrone in May they will be a completely different team, so we will look at it sensibly. Any time you beat Tyrone in a game it is a good night," he stated, in that matter of fact way of his.

Connor McAliskey of Tyrone in action against Drew Wylie of Monaghan Photo: Sportsfile
Connor McAliskey of Tyrone in action against Drew Wylie of Monaghan Photo: Sportsfile

"We will take it, move on and not get too carried away."

O'Rourke's charges got off to a blistering start, racing 0-4 to 0-0 in front in the first eight minutes, the first three points coming from the impressive Fintan Kelly, the converted corner-back operating much further up field.

With Monaghan playing a solid blue wall of defenders on their own 45 metre line, Tyrone's caution cost them until they began running and drawing frees that Lee Brennan converted - eight of them in total - and somehow they made it to half-time with an unlikely one-point lead.

Depth

However, the depth of Monaghan's panel was to drive them home with Conor McManus coming off the bench to land three crucial points as they rolled up the sleeves and wrested back the lead.

Ronan McNamee of Tyrone is challenged by Shane Carthy of Monaghan Photo: Sportsfile
Ronan McNamee of Tyrone is challenged by Shane Carthy of Monaghan Photo: Sportsfile

With five minutes remaining, they held a four-point advantage but the visitors knuckled down well and a brace of Brennan frees plus one from play from Richard Donnelly reduced the deficit to a point with half the four minutes of injury-time remaining.

The home side tried to retain possession but coughed up the ball outside the Tyrone 20-metre line. Immediately, Mickey Harte's troops sensed an opportunity to earn a share of the spoils.

They worked the ball forward as Monaghan retreated frantically en masse, but when Peter Harte got a chance to equalise from 35 metres out on the left wing his angled effort dropped short into the grateful arms of Rory Beggan, who had a big say in the overall proceedings having converted three long-range points earlier.

For Harte, it now reads four losses from Tyrone's last five games, but he insists his players are not suffering from a lack of confidence.

"I don't think it is an issue," the Tyrone boss said.

"I think it's just one of these phases teams go through and maybe we have gone through it for too long, of creating lots of chances and just not finishing the chances.

"It is something we need to think about and see if we can create something that is going to bring us to a better place."

Their last three games are Donegal at home, a trip to Mayo and a home tie with Kerry to finish. Their league season now becomes a Great Escape effort.

"Every game is important as there is a target of a certain number of points that every team need, and they would suggest you need at least six, to be safe," said the Errigal Ciaran man.

"We are four off that at the minute, it's not a good place we are in at the minute, but it is still in our own hands to affect that. Every game has a knockout status from here on in."

As for Monaghan, they are virtually assured top flight football for the fifth consecutive season in 2019.

O'Rourke insists they are process-orientated.

"I said that right from the start, it's not a case of looking for any single figure of points or anything else. We are just targeting every single game and seeing if we can improve our performances," he said.

"We have done that, we feel our performances have been fairly consistent, even the Mayo game as well, even though we didn't win anything. And we feel we have improved on each day on different aspects, that's what we are committed to do."

 

 

Irish Independent

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