GAA Football

Frank Burns says Tyrone need to be more clinical

Tyrone face Cork on Saturday for a place in the Super 8s. Picture by Philip Walsh.

DESPITE another fine display at the heart of the Tyrone defence on Saturday, Frank Burns admits he’s expecting to be hauled over the coals when it comes to their video analysis.

The Pomeroy man has enjoyed a fine year, establishing himself as a potential long-term centre-back with his particularly outstanding show against Kerry on the last day of the league.

He alternated between operating as the free man and a small bit of man-marking during the win over Cavan in Brewster Park, and popped up to score two points for the Red Hands as they moved to within one step of the Super 8s.

But they made harder work than they ought to have in a game where they were comfortably the better side. That was thanks, in part, to passing up two glorious goalscoring chances.

The second of them fell to Burns himself but, with Peter Harte and Cathal McCarron square, he blazed a shot himself that hit Fergal Reilly and spun up over the crossbar.

“We could’ve put the game to bed. I missed one myself, I was straight through. A pop across for a palm into the net was maybe on, I’m not even sure,” said the Pomeroy man after the game.

“Chances like that, you need to be taking to put the game to bed.

“We’re encouraged just to do whatever it takes to get the goal. If the palm across was on, it’ll be brought up in the video work and I’ll be picked out for that.

“If the palm across the net’s on, 100 per cent, you take it.”

Yet the fact that they had to dig in to get through another round might well do them no harm in the long run.

They were nearly gone against Meath in the first round, needing a last-gasp equaliser from Cathal McShane to salvage extra-time, and Carlow pushed them for 35 minutes before Tyrone’s class started to show.

In blistering heat, they played some of their best football in the last year against Cavan, but struggled to put them away. The Breffnimen took advantage of some sloppy play to hit Tyrone on the break and claw themselves back into the game.

“We did play well in parts but we got punished for a few errors and silly mistakes,” said Burns.

“You can’t really be making them at this level, but you’re not perfect every day you go out. The goal came from a bad handpass.

“We knew it was never going to be easy against Cavan, that it’d come down to the wire and be a dogfight, and that’s what it was. We knew that’d happen and we just wanted to be on the right side of it when the final whistle went.”

Proceedings at Garvaghey are understood to have acquired a greater edge since their Ulster Championship defeat by Monaghan, a good sign that Tyrone are in this for the long haul.

They face Cork in Portlaoise on Saturday for a place in the last eight, with the added bonus of knowing that the winner will host All-Ireland champions Dublin for their second game in group stage.

“There’s always going to be edge in training, I wouldn’t just say it’s come the last while. There’s always an edge and men pushing each other on.

“We’ve had a few tough games but it’ll stand to us. We’re starting to pick up a bit of momentum and team spirit’s building with win after win. We’re out again this weekend and we’ll just look forward to it.”

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