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GAA Football

Ruthless dispatch of Down leaves pundits purring over Red Hands

Tyrone and Down flags add a splash of colour
By Padraig Kelly

A “RUTHLESS dispatch” was Joe Brolly’s summary of Tyrone’s comfortable 2-15 to 0-17 Ulster final win over Down yesterday.

Pre-match on The Sunday Game, the Derry man had revelled in the difference in the way Down would stare down apparently insurmountable odds compared to how Kildare go about their own mission impossible against Dublin later on in the Leinster final.

“All the Kildare supporters I was chatting to, they were all saying ‘ah we’d be delighted to keep them to within 10 points’ etc.

“In Down it’s different. There’s a strong feeling in Down that they will beat Tyrone.

“There is that excitement even though every tenet of logic and common sense says Tyrone.”

After 35 minutes Down were right in the contest, and on BBC’s The Championship, Martin Clarke was starting to believe.

“Down are certainly in this game,” said the An Riocht clubman. “It’s been a bit of a war of attrition.”

“We have a sort of hint of revolution in the air with Down,” said Colm O’Rourke on RTE.

“They’ve really come on strong, Tyrone got sloppy and it was a real pity that Darragh O’Hanlon didn’t bury that goal.”

Back over on BBC, Oisin McConville felt that there were obvious signs of Tyrone struggling to move into a higher gear.

“You could excuse them for a little bit of complacency coming into this game,” he said.

“After 20 minutes of this game you’re going to say that Tyrone are going to kick on and now and win the game.

“One incident I’ll pick out. Mattie Donnelly is going through, Peter Harte is after making a run straight through the middle. All he has to do is pop it to him and he wheels around and takes his own score.

“That’s a mentality thing. That’s not greed, that’s not Mattie Donnelly taking the wrong choice – that’s a mentality thing. It all surrounds complacency.

“Tyrone, having come in with a good attitude and then letting it drop, have to go again and Mickey Harte has to go in and try and change that.”

That’s exactly what Harte did at the break as the Red Hands killed the game in the third quarter before strolling over the finish line.

“It wasn’t shock and awe, it was a ruthless dispatch and that’s what teams with serious credentials do,” Brolly said after the full-time whistle.

“Tyrone, they shut out (Connaire) Harrison, their defensive system works brilliantly and they don’t foul.

“The ref gave Down some sympathy frees in the second half but, in truth, Tyrone gave away one proper free in the first half of the match.

“Defensively excellent, midfield excellent, Colm Cavanagh is a beast.”

Clarke, meanwhile, neatly summed up Tyrone’s procession to the Anglo Celt Cup.

“Tyrone were by far the best team in Ulster this year,” he said. “Two 11-point victories, or whatever it was, against Derry and Donegal and then an eight-point victory today that could have been a lot more. Well done to Tyrone.”

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