Sunday 19 August 2018

Tomas Ó Se: Stubborn Harte must embrace change - if he doesn't this is a huge chance for Monaghan

25 March 2018; Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 7 match between Tyrone and Kerry at Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
25 March 2018; Tyrone manager Mickey Harte during the Allianz Football League Division 1 Round 7 match between Tyrone and Kerry at Healy Park in Omagh, Tyrone. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tomas Ó Se

People often mistake my thoughts on Tyrone as a lack of respect but that's so far wide of the mark and it's actually a compliment saying they won't win an All-Ireland playing like last year because you're comparing them to the best.

Their style of play can beat 90pc of the opposition and plough through Ulster, but it doesn't wash against Dubs as we saw in last year's All-Ireland semi-final and they must change.

It was one-dimensional with a lone attacker and they were chewed up and spat out as a result. They couldn't even question the Dubs and when you lose like that, the county starts turning on you. People start questioning everything and negativity spreads like wildfire.

Doubts come with that. Half the county want Mickey Harte at the helm, the rest want change. Of course they can win another Ulster title but are their forwards good enough to lift Sam Maguire?

They don't set up to hurt teams and they have no chance of winning an All-Ireland if they are playing one man up front.

While I don't agree with their one-dimensional style at times, you still have to admire their direct running game and they really go for it with the likes of Tiernan McCann and Peter Harte bombing through at pace. That's in stark contrast to Galway's ponderous build-up play last weekend. At least Tyrone will run it.

However, if they struggle against Monaghan tomorrow, where to then? Is there a Plan B? Stephen O'Neill was drafted in as a coach, one of the greatest forwards ever to play the game and you'd hope that'll result in a system change.

The whole country is mocking them after the Dubs, they have a chance to complete a three-in-a-row in Ulster - something Harte hasn't achieved - and they shouldn't have the arrogance to think that they don't have to change and leave more attackers forward.

We don't really know how good Tyrone are because we only see a certain style and it was damning to read Sean Cavanagh lament the amount of top-class Tyrone forwards who have gone by the wayside after becoming "victims of the system".

When someone inside the inner sanctum says that, you stand up and take notice but surely, they will just leave Lee Brennan, Connor McAliskey and Mark Bradley inside the 65 and just get fast ball into them.

Harte is a stubborn man in terms of his 'I'll-do-it-my-way' mentality and he's proven everybody wrong before, but if they don't commit bodies forward this is an unbelievable opportunity for Monaghan.

Opportunity knocks for Malachy O'Rourke and while they are a tier below the teams winning All-Irelands, they have achieved something special and need to strive for more.

They'd be foolish to try and mimic the Dubs - only Dubs could do that - and they'll be wary as Tyrone have trampled over them before and seem to have their number.

Monaghan's league form has been outstanding but sometimes they do stupid things in the heat of battle and that's O'Rourke's biggest question: can they minimise those mistakes and make the next level to become a top-four side?

Monaghan came out on top in a dog fight in the league but crucially, Tyrone didn't allow Jack McCarron and Conor McCarthy to get a sniff from play and other younger players like Conor Boyle, Thomas Kerr and Shane Carey must make significant contributions.

It's taken for granted that the old guard like Drew and Ryan Wylie, Conor McManus and Kieran and Darren Hughes will maintain their high standards in a feisty Omagh environment tomorrow, but as Mayo saw last week, that's not a given and Monaghan must show us something different.

Any team with McManus, McCarthy and McCarron in the attack has a chance and while most people expect Tyrone to bounce back, I've a sneaky feeling that the Farney army will take a giant step forward.

Even if they lose tomorrow, they must give us something new in the qualifiers. If they don't get to the All-Ireland semi-final, they should be looking at 2018 as a terrible year, 'Super 8s' is the minimum.

Everybody knows who's going to win Leinster this year and a glorious opportunity has been missed to promote our games by not bringing the Dubs to Aughrim to play Wicklow.

Bringing in John Evans shows Wicklow's deep-rooted footballing passion and bringing the Dubs to town would have worked wonders with youngsters in the county craving a piece of the action.

This is the GAA's foundation and it's very sad that it comes back to money. It's another chance to advertise our games but an open goal has been missed yet again.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport