Red Hands need to ‘put wrongs right’

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

TYRONE face eight weeks of soul-searching and self-analysis as they survey the debris from a league campaign gone wrong.

The Red Hands will go into their Ulster Championship clash with Derry on the back of three straight defeats, and midfielder Colm Cavanagh says it's vital that they sort out the problems and put things right.

First and foremost, reflections will start with an in-depth analysis of Sunday's seven points defeat to Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium.

“We have to now regroup and take a look at things that went wrong in the last three games and work on them and try and put them right," said Cavanagh.

Not for the first time this season, the potency of Tyrone's attack was called into question as they managed just two points from play, although they did end a goal drought with two Peter Harte strikes, one from a penalty.

“We only got two points from play and that isn't good enough. Sometimes there are different factors as to why that happens such as good defending and wrong decision making.

“We will look at that on video and try and work out why we aren't getting more scores from play because that is a big problem.

“Next up is Derry in the championship and while that seems far away it won't be long slipping in. The club season starts next weekend so the games will be coming thick and fast but that is the way that you like it."

Just a few weeks ago, Tyrone were Division One leaders, but it all fell apart in the final three games, which they lost to Donegal, Mayo and Kerry.

“Things were going so well for Tyrone after four games as they set at the summit of the division one table but it all went pear shaped in the last three outings.

“It was a disappointing end to the league campaign for us as we had high hopes of reaching the final.

“We began well but we always knew that we had tough fixtures left in the latter stages of the league and it just didn't work out for us."

Kerry made hay in the Killarney sunshine during the first half on Sunday, racing into a ten points lead as their opponents struggled to get going.

“The damage was done in the first half. We got off to a very poor start and in truth it was probably a damage limitation exercise after that.

“It was always going to be a tough ask to come to Killarney and get a result and we certainly made life a lot harder for ourselves conceding an early goal. You can't afford to do that against any side let alone a top team like Kerry."

With nothing to lose, Tyrone had to play for pride after the break, and a less cautious approach saw them succeed in clawing back a deficit that had been threatening to grow further.

“We said at half-time that we had to go out and make a game of it and I felt that we did that at times in the second half and I think that we could have taken more scores as we got into good positions.

“We would be happy with the second half but certainly not with the first half."


But Cavanagh insisted that Kerry must be given credit for the quality and positive attitude they brought to the contest. 

Threatened by relegation at the start of the day, they turned it around in spectacular fashion by booking a place in the league final against holders Dublin.

“You have to give Kerry credit for their display as well as they were very clinical, particularly in the first half when they missed nothing.

“They really put us to the sword. We knew that it was going to be a massive ask to get a result after the way we had played in the first half."

Meanwhile, Kerry manager was pleased to get a quality performance from his side as championship time edges closer.

“I think we just wanted to look after our own performance and see where that took us. We were disappointed not to get the job done against Cavan last weekend, didn't play great but we still put ourselves in a winning position and didn't see it out," he said.

“So we were anxious this week to make sure that we righted that this weekend. When the league was so tight, we knew that there would be a chance, but ultimately it came down to us winning our own game because if we didn't win our own game, we wouldn't have got there, and then it would be a case of winning by enough.

And he was particularly pleased that his players continued to peform at a high tempo right to the final whistle.

“Absolutely it was, but even in those other games, I don't think we died at the end of games, we just didn't see them out properly. To be fair to Tyrone, as they do, they came back hard at us, and the two goals in particular gave them energy. But we finished strong again, which was a positive."

Fitzmaurice felt Kerry's first half display was the best they have produced so far this season.

“It was, I suppose, coming at time of the league that it has come at, we played very well against Donegal in the first-half. We battled more so against Dublin than playing out of our skins football-wise but when you are coming into Fitzgerald Stadium in April, the body is in good shape, it is a fine day, it is where you want to be as a Kerry footballer.

“The lads enjoyed that and we showed what we are about when we got at it properly."

Another plus was that his defence conceded just three scores from play.

“Look, the lads played well but that is what we expect of them, they wouldn't be selected or picked to do the job otherwise. Definitely, as a unit and as individuals, they played well. We will have to look back at the two goals and see what happened there, but overall you would be very happy with the backs."

Kerry were impressive around the middle, where David Moran and Anthony Maher posted strong showings,

“We were very pleased with all the lads. Thought it was a huge positive for Anthony to get the start today, and get that game-time into his legs and you can't beat playing games, and he got that under his belt.

“Jack Barry has been exceptional for us throughout the league and he made strides that nobody thought that he would make but he has, and he did very well when he came on."

Now they're preparing to face the Dubs in Sunday's league decider, and what a game that should be.

Fitzmaurice remarked: "Playing Dublin in Austin Stack Park on a Saturday night and playing them in Croke Park are two very different things, so it will be a huge challenge for us next Sunday as it was last year for the national league final, we will still be down bodies so it will be a big test for us.

“It is certainly where we want to be, we set out at the start of the league to get to the final and it is great from the point of view of shortening the gap between league and championship - because the under-21s was going to have an effect on club activity anyway. Playing Dublin in Croke Park is about as tough as it gets and that will be great for us."


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