GAA Football

Pat Spillane: 'Let's hear it for the Dubs'

2/9/2018 Dublins Eoin Murchan holds up the Sam Maguire Cup after yesterdays win over Tyrone in Croke Park .Picture Seamus Loughran
By Padraig Kelly

ONLY full commitment to sharpening their attacking instincts will allow Tyrone to overhaul Dublin in the coming years according to Joe Brolly.

Jim Gavin’s stars collected the Sam Maguire Cup for a fourth time in a row yesterday with a 2-17 to 1-14 win over the Red Hands at Croke Park and speaking on The Sunday Game afterwards, the Derry man said that Mickey Harte had seen the error of his ways in recent games but hadn’t yet found a way to solve all their offensive issues.

“The big managerial error of Mickey Harte, and there have been many… last year after the semi-final, he should have converted to football then and worked on football.

“We saw it today, the biggest problem for Tyrone is that they did create a lot of potential chances but they didn’t know how to take advantage of them. Shot selection, the wrong passes and in the second half they wouldn’t kick-pass the ball forward.

“This is what comes from playing conditioned, zonal defensive football for four or five years.

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“The players aren’t trusted. If you won’t trust the players they won’t trust each other.

“Rewind back to the Tyrone team of ’03, ’05, ’08, they would have taken those chances.”

The statistics will surely cause some grimacing for Harte and his coaching staff in the fall-out. They had 24 scoring chances from play compared to Dublin’s 25 but had 16 wides to their opponent’s six.

Owen Mulligan, a sideline pundit for RTE yesterday, backed up Brolly’s point that it was their inability to be ruthless in attack that ultimately cost them a fourth All-Ireland title.

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"The shot selection was very poor and the forwards kind of let us down on the day, forwards hitting with the outside of the boot when the shot wasn't really on.

"We got off to a dream start. The first 15 minutes we were coasting, we were in Dublin's faces and it was perfect.

"A bad shot selection from (Cathal) McShane, they went up the field and scored a point. A bad kick-out from (Niall) Morgan and then the penalty.

"I probably don't think it was a penalty but the game is over at that stage."

Over on Sky Sports, Jim McGuinness agreed that there would be difficult period of reflection for Tyrone. Maybe, he opined, it wasn’t one that got away, but certainly one that could have been a lot closer.

“I think if it had ended up being 10 or 12 or 14 points it would have been easier in a way,” said the former Donegal boss.

“The reality was that those bits and pieces in the first half and then to come back at the end with the balls going in on the diagonal, I thought they could have done that in the first half as well. Tested the water, see if they could get anything out of it.

“The first ball that went in on the diagonal they got the penalty out of it and so there will be these bits and pieces that will be floating around in their heads. There will be a couple of nights’ sleep that won’t be what they should be.”

Still, on a day of regret for Tyrone, it was important that Dublin got the required credit for becoming only the third county to reach the four-in-a-row club alongside Wexford and Kerry.

In 2019 they will attempt to achieve what the Kingdom famously came so close to doing in 1982, and fittingly it was Pat Spillane – one of their players that day when they lost out to Offaly – who neatly summed up the brilliance of Gavin’s side.

“Let’s today salute a brilliant team,” Spillane said.

“Brilliant footballers, brilliant role models, an advertisement for everything that is good about Gaelic football.

“It’s up to the other counties to aspire to be like the Dubs, to play like the Dubs.

“Let’s applaud what they’ve achieved. Four in a row, 28 Championship games unbeaten, three of that starting team today – (Stephen) Cluxton, Cian O’Sullivan and James McCarthy - have played in all six (All-Ireland successes since 2011). Eleven players have now won six All-Ireland medals.

“Jim Gavin has managed Dublin to five Senior All-Ireland titles, second only to Micko (O’Dwyer).

“They have won six All-Ireland titles in eight years, they’re just brilliant and well done.”

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