GAA Football

The tactics, the line-ups, previous meetings and the key players in battle of Tyrone and Monaghan

Lee Brennan scored eight points from frees when Tyrone met Monaghan in the National League
Andy Watters

Tactical Take


IF Tyrone line-out as per the match programme (big ‘if’) you’d expect fit again Colm Cavanagh to operate as a sweeper beside full-back Ronan McNamee.

Ahead of them, Championship debutant Frank Burns has a vital role to play at centre half-back, marshalling the defence and knowing when to sit, when to press and when to join the Tyrone attack as they break forward in waves. With the likes of Sludden, Meyler and Mattie Donnelly, Tyrone won’t lack energy around the middle third.

Mickey Harte has named Lee Brennan, Connor McAliskey and Mark Bradley in the full-forward line, but for the Tyrone boss it’s not about playing with six forwards, it’s about his team’s mentality when they have possession.

Are they prepared to make decisions that land knockout blows? Or are they content to pass the buck and grind it out?

Expect Tyrone to build attacks patiently and look to counter-attack at pace from turnovers and when they run at the Monaghan defenders, they’ll look to force fouls and frees and find the scores to get them over the line.


THE Farneymen play one of their half-forwards as the spare man in defence. Tomorrow that is likely to be Darren Hughes (listed at midfield) who operated there during this year’s League game and was able to get on a lot of ball, particularly in the first half.

Monaghan players hugged the touchline in that game, stretching the Tyrone defence across the pitch and creating spaces for their runners to exploit. Fintan Kelly scored three early points as Monaghan raced into an early four-point lead that was ultimately the winning of the game for them.

Conor McCarthy could well be used as the attacking outlet tomorrow and if he can give the side a foothold in the Tyrone half, the Farneymen will look to work the ball up the field on the flanks and create scoring opportunities without – and this is crucial - giving Tyrone the chance to turn them over.

Monaghan tend to build slowly and patiently from the back but when they create an opening tomorrow they will have to exploit it with total commitment.

Tyrone: N Morgan; P Hampsey, R McNamee, C McCarron; T McCann, F Burns, P Harte; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; C McShane, N Sludden, C Meyler; L Brennan, C McAliskey, M Bradley

Monaghan: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; K Duffy, V Corey, K O’Connell; N Kearns, D Hughes; F Kelly, J McCarron, D Ward; C McCarthy, K Hughes, C McManus

Man of the moment

Lee Brennan (Tyrone)

THERE has been a lot of talk about the young Trillick forward who gets his first Championship start at Healy Park tomorrow.

The Ulster Championship is not a forgiving environment and Brennan will have to sink or swim tomorrow against the experienced Monaghan defenders.

Brennan has the silky skills to swim and prove his undoubted quality in a game that could remain in the balance until the death.

Brennan scored eight points, all from frees, when these sides met in the League at Castleblayney back in February and his reliability from placed balls is a massive boost for Tyrone who have struggled to find a consistent free-taker in recent seasons. There has been just one goal in the last three Championship games between these sides, so a moment of Brennan brilliance could decide the issue tomorrow.

Key Battle

Conor McManus (Monaghan) v Ronan McNamee (Tyrone)

IF McNamee doesn’t start on McManus, you can be sure that he will spend some time with him because the Clontibret maestro is the potential matchwinner for Monaghan.

McManus is certain to have a human screen around him. Keeping him quiet is one thing, keeping him quiet without conceding scoreable frees is something else and the Monaghan Allstar and his long-term team-mate, goalkeeper Rory Beggan, are well capable of slotting them over the black-spot all evening.

McNamee is quick, physical and a good reader of the game and he will look to force McManus to go deep to get on the ball where he is more likely to be swarmed by Tyrone defenders. McManus won’t have much space to operate in, but he only needs half-a-yard to send a half-chance over the bar.

Last 10 Championship battles

August 8, 2015: Monaghan 0-14 Tyrone 0-14

June 15, 2014: Monaghan 1-12 Tyrone 0-14

August 3, 2013: Monaghan 0-12 Tyrone 0-14

June 5, 2011: Monaghan 1-11 Tyrone 1-13

July 18, 2010: Monaghan 0-7 Tyrone 1-14

July 15, 2007: Monaghan1-13 Tyrone 1-15

August 6, 2005: Monaghan 1-7 Tyrone 2-14

July 17, 1988: Monaghan 1-10 Tyrone 0-11

May 16, 1982: Monaghan 0-9 Tyrone 1-9

May 17, 1981: Monaghan 2-9 Tyrone 0-6

Last meeting

All-Ireland SFC quarter-final, August 8, 2015: Tyrone 0-18 Monaghan 0-14

MONAGHAN duo Darren Hughes and Paul Finlay and Tyrone’s Ronan McNamee were sent-off in a bad-tempered quarter-final that the Red Hands won thanks to the scoring power of forwards Darren McCurry and Conor McAlisksey who shared 0-11 between them.

Conor McManus top scored for Monaghan with a 0-7 haul but he was tightly marked throughout by McNamee who had assistance from Colm Cavanagh and Justin McMahon

Peter Harte sent Tyrone 0-6 to 0-3 ahead in the 23rd minute but McManus helped Monaghan close to 0-7 to 0-5 at the break.

McNamee stormed upfield for an inspirational point in the 57th minute that sent Tyrone 0-16 to 0-10 clear. Monaghan tried to get back into contention, but couldn’t conjure up the goal they needed.

Who’s the ref?

David Coldrick (Meath)

THEY don’t come much more experienced than the Royal County whistler.

Calm and a good communicator, Coldrick took charge of the All-Ireland finals in 2007, 2010 and 2015.

He was also the man in the middle for the 2015 and 2016 Anglo-Celt deciders and last year refereed the All-Ireland quarter-final between Tyrone and Dublin.

That game was a stroll in the park for the Dubs, so Coldrick had a relatively easy time of it. He can expect a much more demanding 70 minutes tomorrow.

Weather Watch

You can expect high of 16C tomorrow with the chance of a light shower or two in Omagh.

Betting Box

Tyrone: 8/15

Monaghan: 21/10

Draw: 15/2

Worth a punt: Under 0.5 goals 9/2

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GAA Football