GAA Football

Pundit Watch: Tyrone could at least have died with their boots on laments Pat Spillane

Tyrone's Peter Harte and Seán Cavanagh at the end of yesterday's All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park Picture by Hugh Russell
Pádraig Ó Meiscill

BOXING analogies were flying around Croke Park yesterday as Dublin left Tyrone flat on the canvass with something akin to a broken nose and two black eyes.

“I expected an Ali-Frazer job but, instead of that, it looks like Ali beating up Henry Cooper,” was how Colm O’Rourke summed this mismatch up on the Sunday Game.

“Or Mayweather-McGregor,” quipped Joe Brolly, who was obviously delighted to be given an early opportunity to add that one to his analytical repertoire.

“At least in boxing you could throw in the towel,” added O’Rourke, who was determined to underline just how hopeless Mickey Harte’s men looked against one the greatest teams to ever play the game. And that was only at half-time.

By the final whistle, O’Rourke was labelling the result a “humiliation” for the O’Neill county, and there was little disagreement to be found in the RTÉ studio.

“I’m sure when Mickey Harte and his players go up the road, they’ll want to see the end of the Dubs because there’s no way Tyrone, in their present form, are going to be a match for that side,” the Meath veteran added.

“They set up too rigidly, but the pace, the power and the skill of that Dublin side, they’re a joy to watch in the way they play the game. They could’ve scored 5-30, they had so many opportunities, and we are seeing some of the greatest players of the modern era – the likes of James McCarthy and Cian O’Sullivan.. and God, I seen Stephen Rochford at the game, I wouldn’t like to be in charge of the Mayo team now going home to try and plan for them.”

“What’s the next phase beyond annihilation,” asked Michael Lyster in the presenter’s chair.

“It could’ve been armageddon, but it was only an annihilation,” was as far as Joe Brolly was prepared to go in Tyrone’s defence.

“Dublin’s is a beautiful game-plan, it’s great for the game and you would have to say that it’s obviously disappointing for Tyrone, but it’s good for the health of the game that they’ve been beaten because the last thing you want are copycats of that style of play because it’s a horrific style of play.”

And the Derry man wasn’t finished putting the boot into Tyrone’s battered ribcage: “Tyrone, in the end, were buzzing around like blue arsed flies in a sunroom. They’d no idea how to approach this because, once their primary system was destroyed, there wasn’t anything else there; there’s no initiative, there’s no imagination.

Pat Spillane was gushing in his praise for the Dubss: “I said a few weeks ago that this was one of the greatest Gaelic football teams I’ve ever seen, could be the greatest now,” he said.

But if Tyrone thought they might escape a tongue lashing from the Kerry man, they were out of luck on this front also.

“When you are behind, you at least attack the game. You’re supposed to die with your boots on, and you didn’t die in your boots.”

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