Tyrone machine keeps running – Brolly
IN THE twilight of his career, legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran was fond of repeating the maxim, “The wind is old, but it keeps blowing.”
Mickey Harte, the game’s longest serving inter-county manager may be in his tenth year with Tyrone, but on the evidence of last Sunday, the wind is still blowing strongly.
Henry Downey remarked recently to me that when new Tyrone players come into the side, the process of integration is so smooth you would think a computer chip had been implanted in their brains.
On Sunday, they played with their hallmark composure, moving efficiently towards inevitable victory. Armagh had a wild card in Jamie Clarke, but Tyrone don’t lose to teams that are dependent on one or two individuals. Their strength is the collective.
They no longer have their great players or great players in their prime, but they will still beat nearly everyone else. All it takes for them to go to the next level again is for a few new great ones to arrive on the scene.
The balance they have achieved between defence and attack is something Jack O’Connor might want to study. He has aped the defensive part of their method, but doesn’t seem to understand the other part of the Harte equation.
Their democratic approach to attack ensures that their scores come from everywhere. Corner backs, half backs and midfielders are as liable to score as Stephen O’Neill. In fact, their one truly great forward is now operating in so little space that the only scores he manages are invariably breath-taking. In the Athletic Grounds, he scored two points, each one a collector’s item.
Looking over my notes from the game, I see I have written “Brilliant” beside the first one and “almost impossible” beside the second. Of their 11 first half points, nine were from play and came from eight different men.
The other notable feature of the first half was a truly world class dive from Colm Cavanagh, who appeared to be bowled over by the invisible man. Even by the vaunted standards of the Cavanagh family, this one was a classic.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday June 4. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or you can purchase the online version – for only 90p – by clicking here