Wednesday 21 February 2018

Tyrone's old values provide new impetus for Mickey Harte

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Call off the hounds - the Red Hand isn't ready to be bitten off just yet. Tyrone's uncharacteristic implosion against Monaghan last weekend provoked an exaggerated reaction, including suggestions that they were heading into a tailspin.

True, Tyrone are no longer the force of old, but that's altogether different from being a beaten docket. They needed a positive response yesterday and it duly arrived in a delivery that was straight from the standard Tyrone text book.

Their capacity to clog the approach routes to goal was central to their successes in the glory years. However, it hasn't been as refined in recent seasons, allowing opposition to locate openings which were previously locked tight.

However, it was old business as usual for Tyrone yesterday as they smothered Mayo into submission. Tyrone's 1-11 return was modest enough, but turned out to be more than enough, thanks to the defensive shut-out.

Mayo countered with 1-7, their lowest score in 38 league and championship games, extending back to March 2012. It should have been higher, but they were badly infected by an inaccuracy bug.


And while Tyrone deserve credit for applying heavy pressure on Mayo's kickers, there were also times when the misses were down to nothing more than sloppy finishing. It was all so different to the previous week when Mayo thrived in the far less difficult surrounds of Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney against a Kerry team made life quite easy for the visitors.

Stung by the criticism which flooded their way last week, Tyrone were always going to be more defiant and dogged. And once they set the agenda, they weren't going to have it altered, not even when Cillian O'Connor's goal in the 50th minute cut Tyrone's lead to two points.

What happened from there on will leave Mickey Harte and Co in a positive mindset as they head for three weeks training ahead of the Round 3 clash with Derry in Omagh. Tyrone dug in for a real battle and while they managed to score only 1-1 in the final 28 minutes, their defensive alignment coped easily with Mayo's haphazard attacks.

From a Mayo perspective, it was one of those days when nothing went right. Unlike the previous Sunday, when they were really pumped up for the clash with Kerry, they struggled in most sectors yesterday.

Tyrone were a more driven team and while they didn't have to do anything special to take their first league points of the season, their sound organisation and hard work ethic were enough to outgun the listless home side.

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