Owen Mulligan: Tyrone were found out against ruthless Galway

It all went wrong for Mickey Harte's men in Tuam


This will be a game that Mickey Harte and his team will want to forget very fast. Everything that could go wrong, did.

Going down to Tuam has never been kind to Tyrone, but to be stuffed out the park by 19 points is a major setback in this league campaign and some serious questions need to be asked of players and management.

Tyrone have never cured how to deal with direct running at their defence. Pádraic Joyce’s men penetrated through the middle so many times to pick off scores at their ease. This has been going on for three years now and when you meet the so-called ‘big boys’ come championship time, they find you out.

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Tyrone don’t seem to follow the running man and this causes an overlap every time. The Tribesmen got so much joy every time they attacked and ran at pace.

Everyone of Galway’s forwards scored and Corofin’s Ronan Steede also hit three magnificent points from midfield. While Tyrone squandered change after change by hitting the post four times and being block down in the score zone.

If things couldn’t get any worse Tyrone’s, Kieran McGeary received a red for a dangerous high tackle and Frank Burns got two bookings, opening the flood gates totally. In the last 20 minutes, Galway hit 2-11 to Tyrone’s 1 point. Allowing the experienced Paul Conroy to make an impact by coming off the bench meant he helped himself to 1-1.

Connacht GAA Senior Football Championship Final, Dr. Hyde Park, Co. Roscommon 17/6/2018
Roscommon vs Galway
Galway’s Paul Conroy
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Even though the score at half time was 12 to 6, the biggest blow was yet to come, when McShane landed very badly on his ankle as he came out to receive the ball. Now McShane looks to be out of the Championship campaign this year and after bending over backwards to keep him going to Australia this is a massive blow.

There is nobody to replace McShane that offers that same physical presence, and with Matty Donnelly still on the treatment table, the injuries to key players are piling up for Harte’s men. With Dublin up next in Omagh, it doesn’t come much bigger than that game. Tyrone need to lick their wounds and get right back at it. This week is very important not just for the rest of the league, but building into the championship.

On the flipside, Galway are flying at the minute and are an absolute joy to watch. I don’t think even they could believe the scoreline against Tyrone. But the ruthless and relentless way they dismantled Tyrone was very impressive. Joyce has let the shackles off and they are playing a more freer expansive brand of football and getting rewarded by sitting top of Division 1.

Allianz Football League Division 1, St. Jarlath’s Park, Tuam, Co. Galway 23/2/2020
Galway vs Tyrone
Galway’s Damien Comer and Tyrone’s Kieran McGeary
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Logan

It was never a question whether  Galway had the players, but last year they just played so defensive and were afraid to commit forward. This year they seem a lot fresher and fitter and want to play the style that Joyce is trying to implement. Walsh, Brannigan, Steede and Comer all stood out and will probably grab the headlines, but this was a complete team performance.

With a good league campaign under their belts and no team would fancy meeting the Tribesmen in the championship.

Allianz Football League Division 1, Elvery’s MacHale Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo 1/2/2020
Mayo vs Dublin
Dublin manager Dessie Farrell
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Evan Logan

No matter what, you have to play for the full 70 minutes if you want to beat Dublin. Too many teams are patting themselves on the back at 65 because they’ve kept the score down or even leading by a few points.

Both Monaghan and Donegal were in commanding positions to take points and they didn’t follow through, they bottled it. Panic set in. I’m not doubting Dublin’s never say die attitude and it is a sign off true champions. But all the challengers have to game manage the situation better.

This doesn’t come from the managers. It comes from the player on the pitch. Dublin are brilliant at it by being patent on the ball, choosing the right shot selection and being cynical when they smell dangerous. Teams need to believe they can beat the Dubs and I do think the gap is starting to reduce.

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What do you think?