Category: Archive

Tyrone dethrone

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Because if Tyrone’s breakthrough victory in 2003 was down to a greater amount of graft than craft, this second triumph in the space of three years proved emphatically that the Ulster county has lifted the game to a new level – a level which Kerry were unable to reach.
Criticized in the past for being cynical, overly aggressive and too reliant on sheer endurance than skill, Tyrone came up with all the right answers last weekend to produce a complete performance.
Of course, there were extraordinary reserves of fitness, as well as the by now customary total commitment, but there was also the class of veteran Peter Canavan, the vision of Brian McGuigan, the honest running game of Brian Dooher, the defensive intelligence of Philip Jordan, to complement some outstanding all-round football from the rest of the team.
Some said Tyrone would be out on their feet after a sapping total of 10 championship matches this summer, but instead they were energized by the occasion and by the opportunity to dethrone the champions. This season, they have beaten the Ulster champions, the Leinster champions and the Munster champions on the way to the most deserved of titles.
Although there was an off-the-ball incident during the first half for which no one was censured that left Colm Cooper with an eye injury, if anything it was Kerry who adopted the more physical approach. The billing of the artists against the artisans was turned on its head, as Tyrone came up with a display that was breathtaking in its quality and intensity.
After a blistering start in which the gifted Cooper kicked a point before setting up a goal for Dara O Cinneide, Kerry appeared to be on track for back-to-back championships. But Tyrone had yet to move through the gears.
Once they did, Kerry struggled to stay the pace. Players like the outstanding Seamus Moynihan were too often caught in possession by Tyrone’s high-energy defense, and although they closed the gap to just a point in the 57th minute when Tomas O Se rampaged up the field to crash in a goal, the winners simply found more reserves to close out the game in style.
Having triumphed at last in 2003, and having lost the Ulster title to Armagh after a replay, and having defeated Dublin after a replay in recent months, Tyrone possess a self-belief that at times defies logic. Battle-hardened but in no way battle-weary, they finished the match with remarkable poise and confidence.
If the final will be remembered as Canavan last shining fling in the Tyrone colors — the 34-year-old confirmed afterwards that he was quitting inter-county football — there were tributes both from manager Mickey Harte and captain Dooher to Cormac McAnallen who died last year.
Just two months before he passed away, early in 2004, McAnallen had told his teammates that his greatest wish was not to finish his career with only one All Ireland winners medal.
“Unfortunately, Cormac can’t get any more medals physically,” said an emotional Harte. “But he was our 31st player out there. We knew he was with us and we know now that in some way we can put our hands on our hearts and say that we haven’t let him down.
“We had a very rough year in 2004. You can play football again, but your heart isn’t always in it as much as you try. I just thank God that we got his opportunity to play a final and to win a final the way Cormac would have been proud of.”
After their impressive opening, it soon became clear that Kerry were finding it hard to cope with Tyrone’s movement and dynamism. With Declan O’Sullivan foraging around midfield, both Cooper and O Cinneide were increasingly isolated as Conor Gormley and Ryan McMenamin took control, and the mobile and versatile Tyrone backs and half forwards began to roam around the pitch picking up most of the breaking ball.
Once again, Dooher covered nearly every blade of the Croke Park grass, while McGuigan was the fulcrum of so many passing sequences. With the Kerry defense caught out of position coming up to the interval, Jordan launched a high ball into Owen Mulligan who was able to hold off Paul Galvin before finding an unmarked Canavan.
Lesser players might have blasted the shot, but Tyrone’s legendary attacker calmly found the one spot low and to the left where goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy would have no chance of making a save.
The goal left Tyrone leading by 1-8 to 1-5 at the changeover, and with Canavan taking a rest before being reintroduced for the final 15 minutes, Tyrone looked in no way weakened by Colin Holmes? presence in midfield. In fact, Sean Cavanagh came more into the game, and later so did. Stephen O’Neill who clipped over two gorgeous points.
Kerry proved their resilience with Tomas O Se’s goal, but as they frantically re-jigged their forward line in search of some inspiration, only 18-year-old substitute Darren O’Sullivan, who was making his senior debut, had the pace to trouble Tyrone.
Canavan responded with a score from an acute angle, and although Cooper pointed from a free, Tyrone were in full flow once again as McGuigan and Jordan made the game safe.
“You can analyze it until the cows come home, but it looked like they had been through those battles before,” said Kerry manager Jack O’Connor. “If we had snatched a draw, we might have improved in the replay, but it showed that we haven’t been in the same heat of battle.
“Yes, we were caught in possession a few times, and possibly we went for goals a bit too early, I wished the extra minute of injury time had been played, because if there are four minutes to be played, they should be played. But look, no excuses, and we won’t be getting excited about it, because Tyrone are an exceptional side.”
As Dooher brandished the Sam Maguire Cup, and as Pat Spillane tried to digest his words, Jack O’Connor had got it exactly right. Tyrone are an exceptional side.
TYRONE: P McConnell; M McGee, J McMahon, R McMenamin; D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan (0-1); E McGinley, S Cavanagh; B Dooher (0-1), B McGuigan (0-3), R Mellon (0-2); P Canavan (1-1), S O’Neill (0-4, 2 frees), O Mulligan (0-4, 2 frees). Subs: C Holmes for Canavan, half-time; C Lawn for McMahon, 48 mins; Canavan for McGinley, 55 mins.
KERRY: D Murphy; M McCarthy, A O’Mahony, T O?Sullivan; T O Se (1-0), M O Se, S Moynihan; D O Se (0-2), W Kirby; L Hassett, E Brosnan (0-2), P Galvin; C Cooper (0-5, 2 frees), D O’Sullivan, D O Cinneide (1-1, 1 free). Subs: MF Russell for Hassett, 44 mins; Darren O’Sullivan for O Cinneide, 61 mins; B Sheehan for Galvin, 61 mins; E Fitzmaurice for Moynihan, 68 mins.
Referee: M Monahan (Kildare).

There was more cause for celebration in Ulster as Down captured the minor All Ireland title at Croke Park with an emphatic 1-15 to 0-8 victory over Mayo. Faster, more physical and more direct, it wasn’t the winners’ fault that this final turned out to be a woefully one-sided affair.
For Mayo there was added heartbreak as this was the county’s 12th defeat in an All Ireland decider at either senior, under-21 or minor levels since they last won a national title in 1985. To compound the disappointment, their fate was effectively sealed early in the second half when goalkeeper Shane Nallen was only able to tip a hand pass by Down’s Paul McCumiskey into his own net.
Down had already been leading by 0-11 to 0-3 at the break and with James Colgan and Martin Clarke, who had both played in the All Ireland under-21 final earlier this year, controlling the game, there was no hope for Mayo.
Ryan Kelly kicked five points, including three frees, McCumiskey finished with 1-3 while Clarke added two points. As for Mayo, who were unfortunate to see two shots come back off the woodwork, Aidan Campbell finished as top scorer with four points from frees.

St. Gall’s of Antrim won the All Ireland football sevens title at Kilmacud Crokes in Dublin last weekend taking the honors after a penalty shoot-out with Castleblaney Faughs of Monaghan.
A late Kevin McGourty point saw St Gall’s draw level at 2-11 to 3-8, and then McGourty emerged as the hero as he saved all three of Castleblaney’s penalties.

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