Lights out on Tyrone as Dubs march on

And then there were four. I was away on hols when the Leinster final was played a few weeks back and so didn’t see what was by all accounts a poor Dublin display against Wexford but there was nothing wrong from their perspective with the way they dismantled a tired and ageing Tyrone team at Croke Park this evening. Dublin were never in danger of losing tonight and the only surprise was that their margin of victory was only seven points. It could easily have been double that.

Last year’s clash between the counties at the same stage in the championship was a tense and close contest. Thinking back to all those Tyrone wides twelve months ago, factoring in Dublin’s apparent dip in form of late and adding in a soupçon of the Northern lads’ good second half display against the Rossies made me plump for the Red Hands in my mini-league prediction ahead of this evening’s clash. It’s not the first prediction I’ve got wrong this summer (and it won’t, by the looks of it, be the last either) and it was obvious from early enough tonight which way this one was going to swing. After the opening exchanges, Dublin grabbed control around the middle and the quick ball – the best display of accurate foot-passing seen all year (Pet Spillane must have been purring on the box about it) – into their mobile full-forward line allowed the Dubs to take a decisive lead, one that they’d never relinquish.

Diarmuid Connolly, surely the epitome of a confidence player, had his best championship performance to date for the Dubs tonight. If Connolly gets an early one over, he can catch fire (equally, if he misses he can keep on missing). He did tonight and he ended up with seven points, all from play. Tyrone couldn’t handle the two Brogans either but of equal importance was their inability to get to grips with those supplying the ammo, especially Barry Cahill who spent the evening spraying good quality ball to the lads inside.

Tyrone’s hallmark down the years has been their solid workrate and their all-for-one-and-one-for-all approach to defending. Tonight, they simply gave defending a night off thus allowing the Dublin forwards all the time in the world to take aim and shoot. They haven’t been as loose at the back at Croke Park since the time Meath blew them away in the 1996 All-Ireland semi-final.

Mickey Harte’s odd team selection didn’t help. Owen Mulligan stayed on despite contributing little or nothing over the seventy minutes while Kyle Coney – one of the Red Hands’ real successes this summer – was left to kick his heels on the bench all night. Joe McMahon never got to grips with Connolly, his brother Justin was taken off at half-time, Kevin Hughes was static and ineffective in the middle, Conor Gormley was powerless to stop the blue tide washing over him while the Cavanagh brothers (especially Colm) did little to aid the cause either.

Brian Dooher, Stephen O’Neill and Enda McGinley all weighed in with points after coming on in the second half but Tyrone were already as good as beaten by then and it was only a series of missed goal chances at the other end (the Dubs missed at least four clear opportunities for majors in the second half) that enabled them to avoid a real trimming.

With this defeat, you’d have to think that a number of those great stalwarts who have helped to bring such success to Tyrone in recent years will now depart the scene. Mickey obviously wasn’t ruthless enough in changing things around this year (in particular after the defeat to Donegal) and he’ll now face (assuming it’s him that’ll be doing it, which isn’t at all certain) a major rebuilding exercise. In that sense, those of us in Croke Park tonight more than likely saw the curtain coming down on a golden era for Tyrone.

Last year, when the Dubs felled the Red Hands it completed a clean sweep of wins in the quarters for qualifier counties over the four provincial champions. Tonight’s win, which means that – for the first time since the backdoor was introduced in 2001 – the semis will be contested by the four provincial champions, had a kind of neat symmetry to it. I’m not sure what this turn of events means as regards which is the more preferable route to take in the championship; personally, I think the current structure sucks and will continue to do so until it’s overhauled properly but that’s one for another day.

For now, the Dublin bandwagon is on the roll again. No doubt the national media will, having had to shelve thoughts about another Kerry-Tyrone final, will now start to work themselves in a collective orgasm over the possibility of a Kerry-Dublin one. The Dubs will, however, face, a very different kind of challenge when they get into the den with Jimmy McGuinness’s ultra-defensive Donegal in three weeks time.

The Dubs will, I reckon, be very strong favourites to win that one but they only need to think back to the last time that they faced the Herrin Gutters in the championship to realise how dangerous it would be for them to take the Ulster champions for granted. And then, if they do manage to get over that hurdle, they’ll still have the final to negotiate against Kerry … or Mayo. This fascinating championship could still have a few more twists to it before it’s over.

25 thoughts on “Lights out on Tyrone as Dubs march on

  1. Dublin looked really good there last night, brushed aside a poor Tyrone outfit who really weren’t at the races. Never seen a tyrone team defend so poorly under Harte, they willl be back though don’t worry about that so much underage talent in Tyrone in recent years that their future still looks bright.

    No question everyone talikng about the dream final Dubs v Kerry, How sweet it would be to throw a Western spanner in the works, Pat Spillane would go mental. He’s been salivating about a “traditional” Kerry v Dublin final for the last 20 years!

  2. I was at it, actually sporting a Tyrone jersey as my missus-to-be is a Tyrone fan. I’ve been to a lot of Tyrone matches in my time. Tyrone made Dublin look good. They did everything wrong when playing this Dublin team. They did not cover the short quick kickouts. They allowed themselves to be outnumbered in midfield breaks. Their marking was so poor that Dublin had as many free shots as they had in the warmup. They continually carried the ball into contact against a physically superior Dublin team. If they weren’t doing that, then they were holding the ball up, and passing it backwards and sideways and every which way which allowed Dublin to funnel 12 or 13 men behind the ball. You play quick early ball to defeat the blanket defence, and A. Tyrone didn’t do that and B. The movement in the Tyrone forward line was static and unimaginative. When Tyrone found themselves behind, they never looked like creating the goal or two needed to drag themselves back into it because their forwards bunched in the middle on the 20, not allowed any runner the space needed to get through.

    On another note, Dublin were also very cynical, which while often was pulled by by ref Joe McQuillan, it wasn’t often enough. The number of times Dublin engaged in two or three-man tackles, leaving the hand in, and sly tugs on the jersey and were not pulled up on it was unbelievable. The number of times Dublin cynically tactically fouled Tyrone between the midfield and their 45 was disgraceful. I’m pretty sure that in the final 10 minutes, Dublin made a couple of substitutions with the direct instruction to foul, because that’s certainly what seemed to happen.

    I fancy Donegal’s puke football to be enough to contain Dublin’s cynical football, it’s a lose-lose situation really.

    Gosh, amn’t I very negative this morning. On a lighter note, have you ever seen the ball strike the two posts and the crossbar and then go over as it did for one of the points last night?

  3. It’s not often I actually want the Dubs to win, but I thought last nights result was good news for us, particularly the way Dublin completley dismantled Tyrone. Jesus the hype will be in overdrive now.
    Most people won’t see past the “dream final”, the same way they couldn’t see past a Cork-Kerry semi final. All good for us. Let everyone carry on talking about how great the Dubs and Kerry are.
    Jesus Willie Joe, you’re 2 results away from possible civil war in your house…

  4. I was a temporary Dub at Croker last night (though I’ve never gone as far as wearing the jersey – there’s a limit to what I’ll do for the little lad). I’d agree that Tyrone made Dublin look good, they were unbelievably flat and their tactics were all wrong.

    On the dark arts, I actually thought it was good fun and especially so to see a team that has specialised in such tactics getting paid back in full in their own coin. Even the way the two Dubs lads stayed down ‘injured’ to run down the clock was straight out of the Nordie playbook – I counted the time used up with both stoppages and it came to exactly two minutes, which was all the injury time alloted. Never mind, if Tyrone were there till Christmas they wouldn’t have won last night.

    I actually thought McQuillan gave Tyrone a fair few soft decisions to his fellow Ulstermen (where was Marty Duffy when he was needed?) especially in the second half. Two or three of Tyrone’s first half points also came from very charitable free awards. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the GAA hands matches at this end of the season to refs from the same province as one of the participating counties (which also happened to us last weekend).

  5. The cynical fouling outfield is something that needs to be sorted. I suggest that anyone deliberately pulled down rugby tackle style is given a 13 metre free in front of the goals. That would give the advantage back to the attacker. At present there is no advantage to the attacker in getting a free from way outfield when dragged down in this manner.

  6. It’s getting close to that now, Dan – I was telling the small fella as we came out of HQ last night that he’s in a great position, up on two of the four horses left in the race. I think if it comes to it, he’ll adopt an “either way I win” attitude but that’s not an approach his old man will be taking.

    Hickey did give us the benefit of the doubt in some respects the last day, Richard – Ger Cafferkey could easily have got a second yellow in the first half with his (unintentional, by the looks of it) trip on Fiachra Lynch. Then again, he disallowed Jason Doherty’s goal when Quirke dropped the ball coming out. I still think that one should have stood.

    I don’t think Hickey was biased in any way but it is poor form that, at this stage of the championship, the GAA can’t give matches like this to someone from one of the other two provinces. I know that this could mean we’ll end up with Joe McQuillan against Kerry (I see that the lads on are now saying he might be in line to do the All-Ireland – incompetence really can get you far it would appear) but I’m holding out some hope that we might end up with someone like David Coldrick instead in two weeks time.

  7. Digits you definitely had yr Tyrone hat (and jersey) on lst nite, to say that Dublin were sly and disgraceful is completely wrong, if you look at the match in a fair and unbiased manner you will see that Dublin were wholehearted in the tackle and did play on the edge which is of course a northern trait and when Mayo were doing it lst week sure they were legends and thankfully got the desired result
    Also, even though Dublin progressed i still believe that ref McQuillan was a disgrace doing everything to give Tyrone a lifeline in the match and this was echoed by Tyrone fans i met in jurys afterwards.
    Mayo Dublin final please god!

  8. He did indeed give a lot to Tyrone when they were so far behind, and Dublin were far and away the better team last night, including in the tackle. But Tyrone’s poorness was a bigger factor in the win than Dublin’s performance in my book. Mayo didn’t cross the line too often, Dublin did. At matches I often watch what’s happening off the ball as much as off it.

  9. Tyrone were poor, but that is because the Dubs were in their faces from the first to the 70th minute and they look like real all ireland contenders, all the talk is about Bernard Brogan but Alan is the real deal,last night i thought he was very good, and even though bernard had not the best game, where did connolly come from

    as Mayo;dub said, please god it is a mayo duub final

  10. “Mayo v Dublin final please” ? ewwwwwwwwww, not on your nellie do i want that, give me Donegal anyday, better people, better county.

    I don’t like the jacks, i can’t help how i feel. Their supporters do my head in, i know for example 3 Dubs who went along to the game last night and they do not have a fkin notion about GAA, i would go as far as to say they would struggle to tell you how many pts = a goal. Yet they can sing the songs and ” dey hate de culchies”.

  11. I forgot to mention the only reason I donned the jersey is that we realised in the car down that I was wearing a navy jumper with light blue stripes, blue jeans and a navy hat – I would be seen as a Dublin supporter! The shame! So I was handed the jersey to put over it.

    Tyrone were not poor because of Dublin’s performance. Their tactics were wrong from the throw in – Dublin played no different than they ever did except they tackled harder and more cynically, the problem was that Tyrone let them waltz around as they pleased – any team with that invitation will put in a good performance.

    I have no problem with that though – the more Dublin are built up, the harder they fall, and it is always delicious!

  12. Can anyone tell me,if its true that Keith Higgins pulled a hamsting playing for his club lastnight.

  13. Tyrone tactics were poor alright, you could see they were beaten from about the 15th minute, the backs were a yard off every Dublin player. And the ref was all for Tyrone from what I could see. Add in the goal chances Dublin missed and this could have been a complete humiliation for a previously great team. But I’m glad it wasn’t, especially for Mickey Harte, who seems about as humble a man as you could meet.
    I do think Dublin were quite cynical, but that seems to be the standard nowadays with most teams, Donegal are the worst I’ve seen.
    I did find it ironic that Tyrone were on the receiving end this time, and they didn’t seem to like it.
    Still, enough about them. Any news on how our lads came through the club games today?

  14. Granted there are some beaut’s that call themselves Dublin supporters that wouldn’t be able to name their nearest Gaa club and yesterday while waiting in the queue for a beer on the hill i had to endure listening to 2 scrots talkin about stabbings (no messing) but in general an awful lot of the Dublin supporters are of ‘country extraction’ and garnered their love of the game from their country folks who relocated to the capital, instead of a lot of the real Dubs who would be pure soccer heads, so please give the Dubs a chance, love a dub. As before, Dublin Mayo final please god 🙂

  15. Digits, I heard the same thing, It was broadcast on MWR. Peadar would be a big loss,lets hope everbody else is ok.

  16. Quote:-“the Northern lads’ good second half display against the Rossies made me plump for the Red Hands in my mini-league prediction ahead of this evening’s clash. It’s not the first prediction I’ve got wrong this summer (and it won’t, by the looks of it, be the last either)”

    For goodness’ sake, don’t try to predict the outcome of our semi-final, Willie Joe!!

  17. On the basis of my predictions so far this summer, gaamama, I’m confidently predicting a win for the Kerrymen. Hopefully that’ll do the trick!

  18. mayo dub digits, yiz havent a clue about dubs,im a massive gaa fan from working class dublin and thank god i have not got a drop of bitter culchie blood in me.less of the lazy stereotyping lads,there is plenty of real dublin fans

  19. less of the ‘bitter culchie’ real dub._A touch of the lazy stereotyping there!!!

  20. There was a bit of it on both sides, to be fair. I know from being involved in the GAA scene up here that there are loads of genuine and knowledgeable Gaelic football supporters in Dublin but, like any other county, they have their quota of fair weather followers too. In Dublin’s case it’s these who, perhaps because of their sheer numbers, tend to be viewed as the county’s core support but this obviously isn’t the case at all.

  21. Id say real dub yr one of those lads who doesn’t consider anyone a real dub unless their grannies granny on both sides of the family hails from the capital and even you would have to admit some of the dub support let themselves and by association, the dub support down p.s what has bein working class got to do with anything!

  22. To be fair, I never mentioned the fans. I of course know there are some fantastic Dublin GAA people, I work with some in the club where I coach. By the same token, my very own brother-in-law is the type of Dublin fan who would readily admit he on;y goes to the matches to go on the lash before and after 😛

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