Monday 22 January 2018

Ryan McMenamim: Red Hands a work in progress

Tyrone can go all the way as Cavanagh excels

Ryan McMenamin
Ryan McMenamin

Ryan McMenamin

I don't think Tyrone were that impressive when beating Meath on Saturday night, but they are through to the quarter-finals and that's all that matters.

Sean Cavanagh dragged them through to the next round with one of the best individual performances seen in Croke Park for years.

You have to take your hat off to the man known as 'Big Frank'. If he hadn't played so well, Tyrone would have been in trouble. His eight-point haul was a great return but it was his overall work rate that impressed me the most.

He is not renowned for his defensive qualities but he tracked back on a number of occasions and crucially overturned the ball a couple of times.

The Meath full-back line dealt well with our full-forward line – I felt that the quality of ball going in wasn't good, particularly in the first half. The experience that Tyrone had in key areas was also a major factor in their win, although they certainly have work to do going forward.

The pace of Eamon Wallace, who is a sprint champion, caused our defence untold problems and no doubt Monaghan will have noted that. I wouldn't be surprised if they started Christopher McGuinness next weekend in their attack.

Once again Tyrone failed to play for the full 70 minutes, and that is something Mickey Harte will be keen to address.

Tyrone should have been more than four points in front at the break and for the first 15 or 20 minutes in the second half there was only one side in it as Meath ran them ragged at times.

Mickey, though, will look at the DVD of the game and have a plan devised for Monaghan.

It's the last eight in the championship and Tyrone have as good a chance as any side left in it of going the whole way.

Monaghan were brilliant against Donegal in the Ulster final, but the big question is whether they can repeat that level of performance next weekend – and I have my doubts. It's sometimes difficult to get yourself up to the top level a couple of games in a row at short notice.

While Tyrone have reached the quarter-finals without being that impressive, Monaghan have produced the display of the summer to date and have to go out and do it again.

The media, though, will do a lot of their work for them as they will probably say Donegal had an off day in the Ulster final and that Monaghan were perhaps fortunate, but that certainly isn't the case.

They have won an Ulster title after a 25-year gap and anything now is a bonus.


Malachy O'Rourke, Ryan Porter and Leo McBride know Tyrone football inside out and they won't have to do any video analysis. They will probably play a different system to the one that they deployed against Donegal and will feel that they will benefit more from taking the game to Tyrone and running at them.

Donegal returned to winning ways against Laois but the Mayo draw is the one that they didn't want. People have been saying that if this was the final Mayo would lose, but they are a different proposition in the quarter-final.

Donegal have injuries that they didn't have last year but the one big thing they were missing against Monaghan was hunger.

It's only when you are in the white heat of championship battle that you know if you have that hunger or not, and Donegal may be found wanting again.

Cavan have got further than they would have expected and have nothing to lose now.

They were expected to beat London easily and, while they struggled to do so, they will relish a battle against Kerry, and that game will be a lot closer than people think.

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