This is all too familiar ground for the Tyrone forward division. Lee Brennan is one of many players tipped for greatness, but lack of game time has prompted him to withdraw from the fold.
Some might say that Harte’s system did not suit the likes of Ronan O’Neill, Brennan and even Darren McCurry last year. But the bottom line is, when given your chance by Harte you have to take it. It is easy to throw your hands up and walk away.
How about stay and fight for the starting jersey?
Brennan is a lethal forward with great free kicking ability which Tyrone could easily call upon later when the championship hots up. Missing club games and being a sub for the county is a massive factor.
Players grow stale, and being a forward you need to playing week in, week out to capture your Championship form.
Brennan is a prime example of this. Along with his hamstring problems, he has fallen down the pecking order and that led to his difficult decision.
Knowing Harte, he would have tried to persuade Brennan to stay, and to be fair he’s given Brennan ample chances in big Championship games to shine and he didn’t take them.
Harte will know that Tyrone are light on forward-line back up with O’Neill, Brennan and Mark Bradley opting not to play. This is very worrying for Tyrone going forward.
Antrim annihilation is on the way
Saturday’s Championship meeting with Antrim will be nothing more than a training exercise for Tyrone.
We saw Derry huffing and puffing two weeks ago, but Tyrone were always that one step ahead. The gulf between a Division 4 and a Division 1 team is massive. Mickey Harte can afford to play some fringe players this weekend and give them a Championship run out.
The (-12) handicap is being kind to say the least, this could be painful for Antrim on Saturday night.
Ruff day for Monaghan
Monaghan have been knocking on the door with this current team for a long time. They’ve always been the bridesmaids and been unlucky down in Headquarters.
The Sean Cavanagh rugby tackle in 2013 and a Niall Sludden goal last year will always stick in their minds. They’ve run team’s close year in year out, but can’t seem to get over the line. Monaghan looked tired at the weekend.
Cavan came for a battle and Monaghan shied away from it.
Cavan really impressed me and they’ve earned their victory. Waiting an entire decade for this result won’t have been easy.
Elsewhere, my social media was bouncing when a dog entered the fray in Saturday night’s game between Cavan and Monaghan. Many moons ago I had the same experience in Croke Park against Dublin when a Jack Russell made the same appearance.
I remember it ran around for a while with excitement, and with a few failed attempts to be captured, the crowd were loving it. He was getting tired, so I got down on one knee and whistled. He came crawling over and surrendering himself.
I picked him up and gave him to the ref so the match could continue. Only in GAA!
Armagh v Down will live long in the memory
I’ve always said the Ulster Championship is the most competitive province.
Armagh and Down was a classic. The two teams threw everything at it and with Armagh breaking their four-year losing streak, they would be convinced they could make a good challenge for the Anglo-Celt Cup.
Although Down will take great heart from this game, racking up a massive score of 3-13 that would win any match, the one point defeat will still hurt. The sides were level four times in the early stages with some excellent long-range kicking by both sides.
The commitment, hunger and desire both teams showed was a joy to watch. But, Rian O’Neill stole the show for me with eight points, four from frees. Both teams could have a long summer.
Leave Geezer be
The Kieran McGeeney incident set the tone for Armagh that they were down in the trenches and meant business going into extra time.
Geezer has been around the block both as a manager and player, so he knows how to put a signal of intent down.
He simply marked his own territory and expected his players to do the same heading into the extra period.
McGeeney wanted to make sure his men met the challenge head-on. He’s a leader and a motivator, so getting the edge in any way possible to win the match is key. A bit of hangbags to whet the appetite and spice it up never hurt anyone. A ban would have been bonkers.