Tyrone went down to Killarney to have a go at Kerry. They wanted to play on the front foot. Things obviously didn’t go their way for a number of reasons.
Firstly, you have got to admire and give credit to Kerry for the pace and the intensity which they brought to the game. I think their forward play was way above anything Tyrone have come across this year to date.
And the visitors simply could not live with it.
Whilst Tyrone felt they were capable of hurting Kerry up the other end of the field, they didn’t get enough ball up there.
So it was a wake-up call for Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan. I wrote last week that it would give them an indication of where they are at. If they were being placed in the top two or three teams in the country prior to Saturday’s game, this will lower expectations and will give people a better idea of what needs to be done to get up to the top level.
Without a doubt, the concession of six goals on Saturday will force a rethink.
Tyrone’s intention has been to try and play on the front foot, and go at teams. That leaves you vulnerable at the back. Donegal exploited that in the very first game, Kerry took full advantage at Fitzgerald Stadium.
But you cannot just label the problem as a lack of good man-markers in defence.
In my playing days, when we played Kerry we knew we had to unsettle them in the middle third and prevent them from having time on the ball. We always felt you need to cut out the supply chains. If they got a good ball into their forwards, it didn’t matter who was marking them inside.
There was a lack of intensity across the pitch on Saturday. It wasn’t just a problem with the six at the back. That’s something they’re going to have to look at.
We haven’t settled on a permanent midfield pairing, and that’s crucial.
In last year’s All-Ireland final when Dublin were having problems on kick-outs, their second-half plan was simple – drive it hard and long on top of Brian Fenton.
Tyrone don’t have an outlet like that.
As a result, Niall Morgan was trying to pick his kick-outs carefully, and Kerry were pressing up.
Donegal got a taste of the required standard
For 25 minutes, Donegal were superb in their set-up and their shape against the All-Ireland champions.
They turned the Dublin forwards over on numerous occasions. They broke at speed, and they were able to hurt the Dubs on the counter attack. But they were simply unable to sustain the intensity for the entire match. The longer the game went on, there only looked to be one winner. But in fairness, Donegal like they did in previous games kept plugging away and finished the game strong with a goal and a couple of points.
Despite the defeat, I think Declan Bonner will take positives. Odhrán MacNiallais got more game-time. He is going to be a crucial player for them this summer.
They got to experience the Dublin kick-outs. The Sky Blues tried a new strategy. The fact that they encountered that means they will be ready for other teams who try it during the summer.
Having competed with Dublin the way they did without their talisman Michael Murphy, there are more positives than negatives from Declan Bonner’s point of view.
Galway heading for Division 2
Padraic Joyce will be worried about how Galway surrendered their lead on Sunday, and also how they lost possession at a key moment in the build-up to Jack McCarron’s winning score.
Relegation is a setback. The Tribesmen have a host of young players, and Galway are more than capable of playing in Division 1.
But it’s not the end of the world either. The same happened to Mayo last year, and it didn’t deter them from getting to an All-Ireland final.
Mayo blooded young players and bounced straight back this year.
Joyce will also take confidence with how his team have improved since their opening day loss in Kerry. Tyrone’s troubles in the Kingdom will also help put some context on Galway’s defeat in Tralee.
Despite going down, there are positives for Galway. Matthew Tierney in particular was superb.
They will still relish a crack at the Connacht Championship.
Mission accomplished for Mickey Harte and Enda McGinley
The goal for any team in Division 4 is to win promotion. Both Mickey Harte and Enda McGinley have done so in style, raising morale in Louth and Antrim respectively.
As the league went on, the stronger both teams have become.
It’s just a shame that we don’t get to witness these two teams going at it in a Division 4 final.
Knowing Enda and Mickey, I’m surprised they didn’t agree to a final, so they could get a chance to have silverware to show for their first few months in charge.
It would have been another competitive game, which possibly could have been staged in Croke Park. It is a challenge the players would have relished.
So I’m surprised they didn’t follow the Derry and Offaly approach.
But there’s no doubt the two teams are heading in the right direction.
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