Tyrone were lured into the perfect ambush by playing two Division 4 teams and beating them well, but Donegal were always going to be a different animal.
The games against Derry and Antrim were easy wins in the end, but both teams carved Tyrone open several times for goal chances by running hard and moving the ball fast through the hands, avoiding the tackle in the process.
This is Donegal’s bread and butter and it showed after just four minutes when a slick move ended up with Jamie Brennan drilling hard and low to the back of the net. This was just the start, as Donegal sliced through Tyrone’s defence with ease all evening.
The writing was on the wall early on.
Without a sweeper, Tyrone look vulnerable, and the question keeps being asked, are the six backs capable of winning a one to one battle? It doesn’t look like it, they have conceded four goals in three Championship games and that’s very worrying.
The lazy tackling and ill-discipline was plain to be seen. Tyrone looked leggy, lethargic and were second to every ball. Not to mention the blame game between different lines of the defence because we weren’t tracking runs.
Frustration set in, and with that, rushed and panic shooting caused all sorts of uncharacteristic errors. So now, the road trip begins.
Players need to look in the mirror, not Mickey Harte
You can bring a horse to the well, but you can’t make him drink. Sometimes the team on the pitch has to look in the mirror and hold their hands up. Mickey Harte can’t make a player win a 50/50 ball, that comes from desire and wanting to put your body on the line.
There was so many times Donegal wanted the ball more, and they earned it.
Tyrone not winning a kick-out until the 61st minute is a shambles.
Dropping Michael Cassidy and Niall Sludden probably came back to bite Mickey Harte though.
Sludden is a big-game player and makes things happen. When Cassidy he was introduced he added another two points. Tyrone were exploited on the kick outs down the left and right flanks.
Cassidy has the speed and ability to cover ground and cut that out. Colly Cavanagh might have to revert back into his holding-sweeper role because Tyrone just can’t trust their defence at the minute.
Peter Harte’s black card was a joke
The GAA appoint the best referees, for the biggest games to get these big calls right. However, Peter Harte’s black card was nothing short of a joke of a call. Especially, when David Gough was so close to the incident.
This was a tackle to get the ball and nothing else, when you step into a tackle the planting foot has to go somewhere to meet impact with the opponent’s body.
It was no more than a free kick.
You can usually gauge by the opposing team’s reaction when a bad foul is committed. Donegal were as shocked as Tyrone when the black card appeared.
Cutting short such an influential player’s game was crucial and a massive boost to Donegal.
Referees should go unnoticed, but David Gough had a Man of the Match performance by getting one of the major calls wrong.
Tiernan in trouble
There were many talking points about this Ulster semi-final. But, Tiernan McCann gouging/fishhook will grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, there’s no room for this sort of behaviour in our game and we don’t want it creeping in.
However, the GAA have to take a hard stance on this with the suspension and the length of it.
We can always have a trial by social media though, where most people are branding McCann a scumbag and thug. But, where does that stop?
'It's totally unacceptable' – The panel examine the controversial incident involving Tiernan McCann in Tyrone's loss to Donegal pic.twitter.com/kiGxJ6o2xV
— The Sunday Game (@TheSundayGame) June 9, 2019
James McCarthy, Eoghan O’Gara and Philly McMahon all have had eye-gouging allegations made against them. But, because Dublin are winning All-Ireland’s, do these three players come under the thug bracket either too?
Donnie Smith at the start of the National League gouged Keith Higgins and rightly got a one match ban. Even though I’d argue it should have been much longer.
Do the GAA realise that you can do more damage with an eye-gouge than a strike or a head butt?
But, the punishment will remain at a one match ban and nothing more. The precedent has been set. You can’t have one rule for one and a different for others in this.
There won’t be a slip in Longford
Tyrone will want to bounce back straight away and Longford will be the team put to the sword.
Longford had a handy enough First Round Qualifier win over Carlow, which they will be happy with. James and David McGivey helped themselves to 1-4 between them, so they are the danger men to watch.
But, Tyrone will want to get back on the wagon after what they feel was a shock result. It’s also well documented that Harte doesn’t mind the back-door route, as games come thick and fast.
That’s where you build momentum for the later stages of the Championship. I can’t see Tyrone slipping up, they will be well prepared for this tie.