Owen Mulligan: Mickey Harte’s secret weapon Padraig Hampsey is an All-Star in waiting

Legendary three-time All-Ireland winner with Tyrone Owen Mulligan looks back on their semi-final victory over Monaghan in Croke Park…


It was touch and go for Tyrone on Sunday and I reckon Monaghan will be kicking themselves.

With one last push they could’ve gotten over the line, but maybe the big day got the better of them.

I still believe Malachy O’Rourke is the man for the job, he’s done an unbelievable job and they had their chances to be in the final.

It was a good team performance from Tyrone, but Colm Cavanagh was head and shoulders above everyone else. He marshalled the troops in front of him and broke up the play at will.

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Cavanagh just put in some outrageous tackles and won so much ball. He was the difference, without him we’d have been looking at a different game entirely.

He’s not the captain, but he played a real captain’s role. If a lad needed a bollocking, he was the lad to give him a bollocking.

You could see the drive in his face and in his play, it really was a brilliant performance from him.

If Monaghan had another forward half as good as Conor McManus they’d have won. He was out on his own and his fellow forwards didn’t help him too much.

It was a tough game to judge and it could’ve gone either way, but Tyrone kept their heads and had their wits about them to get over the line.

‘Surprising’ starting XV

l’ll admit, I was surprised with the starting team. I would’ve liked to have seen Mickey Harte start the same team he did against Donegal.

Lee Brennan and Kieran McGeary were the two men who came in from that match and I felt that because they started, we had no surprise element coming on towards the end.

Yet again, Connor McAliskey was taken off, I’d never take him off. He’s our top scorer and is so important with his free kicks.

I thought he was having a good game, he was getting on the end of things and to take him off was a mistake.

The bench is very strong, but Dublin’s is outrageous. It makes a massive difference to have lads of that quality come on as subs and I felt Monaghan lacked that kind of contribution from their subs.

Padraig Hampsey is a hidden gem

Padraig Hampsey has burst onto the scene in recent years for The Red Hands. He can do the man marking job brilliantly, he really likes it physical and he loves get in his ear of who he’s marking.

He’s one of our best defenders or midfielders, he’s equally as comfortable marshalling the other team’s best player as he is knocking over a point at the other end.

He’s taken on Michael Murphy, he’s now marked McManus and in my view he has to be in line for an All-Star.

He’s a brilliant player and the secret weapon Mickey Harte always goes to when he needs a job done.

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