Thursday 21 February 2019

Tyrone can learn lessons from the Dubs - Donnelly

Donnelly: "Dublin are the best team. They are the benchmark in Ireland." Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

It might not be a case of 'if you can't beat them, join them' but Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly feels there are huge lessons to be taken from reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin.

The Red Hand suffered a system malfunction against the Dubs in last year's All-Ireland SFC semi-final defeat before leaving the shooting boots at home during the second half against the same opposition in their league loss earlier this month.

If Mickey Harte's side are to make their mark this season, new Tyrone captain Donnelly feels they must raise their standards - particularly in front of the posts - and mirror the economy and efficiency of Jim Gavin's three-in-a-row winners.

"You are never pleased when you lose a game. We took positives from it. Our first half was a very, very high standard. I thought in the second half we still played to a very good standard in everything but our finishing was below par," the Trillick midfielder said.

"Dublin are the best team. They are the benchmark in Ireland. You just have to look at their shot execution. They had two wides last week against us. Even in the All-Ireland final, they might only have had two wides as well.

"So, the top teams have a really high conversion rate and we felt that alone let us down and then you take into consideration the two goals, soft goals we conceded, you would think on paper we don't look too far away.

"Again, you either win or you lose. We came out the wrong side of it. We came out on the right side of it this week, but we will just keep learning from every game and then take it into the next game."

The main reason why Tyrone picked up their first two points of the league was a sublime injury-time match-winner from Donnelly against Kildare which changes the dynamic of their season and raises optimism ahead of the next round against Monaghan on Saturday week.

It was "pure relief" for the two-time All-Star as they belatedly got off the mark and a fairer reflection of where the 27-year-old believes they are at despite being in the middle of a transition.

"We would see ourselves as being better than having zero points after three games. We were desperate to get them and you can talk about performances number one, but at the end of the day we want to be playing Division 1, and two points is going a long way to making sure that is the case.

"It does big time. I wouldn't like to have been leaving with no points on the board, and that's being honest. It wouldn't have been a great place to be.

"You can dress it up. We are still a young team, we are still a developing team. We are going in the right direction.

"We will do the same as we do with every game this year. We will take the learnings from it. We took the learning from last week. You saw some of it, we had 19 points scored, which is very good kicking. We still probably could work on our shot execution, maybe shot selection as well, so we will take that away as well.

"Conceding 1-15, we're not as happy about, but it's good to be able to take those lessons and still be on the right side with two points."

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