Owen Mulligan: It’s time to set Lee Brennan free on Tyrone’s dead balls

Mugsy has never been one to hold back and he was right on form at the launch of his ambassadorial duties with Paddy Power News…

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Owen Mulligan says Tyrone’s small forwards will be targeted by Monaghan in their Ulster SFC clash, and wants to see Lee Brennan become the county’s number one free-taker.

While accepting he played in a forward line of “freak” quality, the three-time All-Ireland winner does not believe any of the current forwards would make it onto their 2003, 2005 or 2008 starting teams.

And he’s concerned about their lack of stature against a physically intimidating Monaghan defence in the May 20 showdown in Healy Park.

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“Monaghan is a different animal because they love to get at the small player and have got the backs to run over the top of them.

“They are tenacious in the tackle and have that wee bit of nastiness, they will target the small player.

“Lee, Mark (Brennan), Ronie (O’Neill)? They’re all heart, don’t get me wrong, but their size worries me.”

News that Brennan is an injury doubt because of a hamstring injury and Colm Cavanagh is in big trouble with a quad injury has increased Mulligan’s sense of anxiety about a fixture he describes as “tricky”. Get over it, and he’d be confident the Red Hands can bag a third Anglo Celt in a row, but he can see potential pitfalls – including from placed balls.

Mulligan would like to see goalkeeper Niall Morgan remain in goals with Brennan taking all the long-range frees and ’45’s.

“They are missing too many free-kicks, crucial free-kicks, and 45s when Lee can put them over with his eyes closed. Why would you not carry him?

“He (Morgan) is putting added pressure on himself to take the free kicks and 45s.

“He missed one against Mayo in Croke Park two years ago to draw the game, I think it was two in-a-row he missed.

“When we are three, four, five points up he’ll step up and wing it over the bar but when we’re under pressure, he doesn’t want to take it sometimes.

“Maybe he should concentrate on being a goalie. He has a good enough kickout and is a good shot stopper.

“I said last year that Lee should be playing and he is accurate with free-kicks and seems to be able to handle the pressure and pop them over.

“He kicks them week in, week out, for his club off the ground and seems to be relishing his chance.”

* Owen Mulligan and Bryan Sheehan will be on hand to give their thoughts and tackle all the big issues of the 2018 GAA Football Championship with their exclusive columns on Paddy Power News.

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