Owen Mulligan: Tyrone and Derry is no longer a rivalry

The man who scored one of Croker’s most famous goals ever drops some truth on his county’s attack…

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When I started my Tyrone career there were few bigger games than against our neighbours Derry. I’m from near the border and went to school in Derry, so whenever the sides met, I’d get involved in plenty of craic with both sets of fans.

The rivalry was so intense, but it no longer exists, as the Oak Leafers have fallen so far behind our lads.

There’s a lot of politics in Derry football. You hear about it the whole time with clubs rowing and lads not wanting to play for the county. That’s not right and I don’t see how a team can compete when they’re carrying that kind of baggage.

Back in my day, the likes of Enda Muldoon, Paddy Bradley and Sean Marty Lockhart would’ve died for the jersey. You definitely can’t say the same about the current crop.

 

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I remember going to Celtic Park and working myself to the bone to get out of there with a Championship win or a National League point. Is that the case now? Absolutely not.

It was an annihilation last year and Derry looked as though they were about to apologise for being there. Crazy!

They also looked massively, massively out of shape in that contest compared to our lads who are pure athletes. I can only see one result on Sunday and that’s a Tyrone win.

Don’t blame the forwards, blame the system

A lot was made during the League about Tyrone’s lack of goals. While the forwards seem to be taking the brunt of the criticism, I’d blame the system Mickey Harte plays.

We’re great defensively but you can’t expect goals when you’re asking scoring forwards to go and defend around the half-back line and then break at pace.

I understand that forwards have to tackle but not the way our lads set up. It’s very similar to what you see with Jose Mourinho at United. You have to wonder if the management trust the players.

They’re rely on breaks but when they arrive into scorable areas, it’s always cluttered. There might be only one forward up there, so he’s going to find it difficult to win the ball, let alone beat a number of defenders.

Despite this, we rattled the net three times in the first 10 minutes against Derry last year, so you just don’t know what system they’ll play.

I’d like to see them play more of an attacking system and they should scrap the blanket defence.

Tyrone players are good in their positions if they’re let play.

Lee Brennan has to start

Tyrone don’t lack fire power. We’ve lacked a clinical free taker that can step up and score nine times out of 10 but we might have one in Lee Brennan.

He plays alongside Matty Donnelly at his club, Trillick, and was all over social media a few weeks back when he clocked up 3-14 in a senior league game.

The lad is class!

There’s massive talk about him and he’s racking up scores so he must be brimming with confidence, but he barely got a sniff in the league. Surely he has to feature in some sort of capacity in the Championship? It would be crazy not to give him a run out.

He’s an excellent free-taker, takes them from the ground, and if we had him on the pitch against Mayo last year, we’d have probably won.

There’s a reason we lose those games. Lads keep missing scores, so we end up having multiple free-takers in a lot of games, which is never a good thing.

Brennan needs to be given a chance. He’s scoring freely and I always remember Mickey Harte saying that if you’re standing out in club games, you have a great chance of starting. I just don’t get it…

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