GAA: Peter Cavanan says Tyrone were guilty of complacency against Monaghan

Last Updated: 23/06/14 5:11pm

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I took a bit of criticism from Tyrone supporters when I arrived at Clones on Sunday.

I had predicted a Monaghan victory on the radio last week and my premise for believing that was I felt that Tyrone weren’t giving Monaghan the credit they deserved for winning last year’s Ulster Championship.

There was a feeling within the county from the supporters, which maybe seeped through to the players, that Tyrone’s hoodoo over Monaghan would continue. This was even evident ahead of throw-in when a massive cheer greeted Monaghan as they took to the pitch, while Tyrone came out to a whimper.

There was more of an edge to Monaghan’s game and putting tactics aside, if two teams are evenly-matched you cannot underestimate the importance of attitude and the difference it can make.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy was asked after the Cork and Waterford replay what tactical changes he had made. He said there was no change tactically; the change was in their attitude from the drawn game. I think if Tyrone played Monaghan again in a fortnight you would see a completely different attitude and scoreline.

Tyrone will have left Clones shaking their heads. Monaghan were depleted; they had a few injuries and even Conor McManus only looked around 50 per cent fit. Kieran Hughes also picked up a knock before half time and I thought he was carrying a leg injury in the second period.

Hughes was the only Monaghan forward that scored a point from play so they didn’t carry the same threat that they did last year. Yet Tyrone weren’t able to deal with that. When you go through their starting 15, no more than three of them left the pitch with their heads held high.

Critical

Despite this, Tyrone could have snatched a draw late on but Niall Morgan was off target from a free. A number of Tyrone supporters were complaining that Sean Cavanagh should have taken it but he called Morgan up. I felt at the time that it was outside Cavanagh’s range; had it been a bit closer I’d have no doubt that he would have taken it himself. 

If it was at any other stage in the game, Morgan would have been called up, so why should it be any different in injury time? It was a sign of the confidence they have in their goalkeeper. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but at the time I thought it was the right decision.

"There was more of an edge to Monaghan’s game and putting tactics aside, if two teams are evenly-matched you cannot underestimate the importance of attitude and the difference it can make."
Peter Canavan

Tyrone were critical of Eddie Kinsella afterwards and while I believe he is one of the best referees in the country, he didn’t have one of his better games on Sunday. He normally tries to let the game flow but I felt he was overly fussy at times. To be fair there were a number of difficult calls. There were about four or five occasions when players from both sides were half-fouled, but were looking for the free at the same time.

On the issue of time-keeping, I think Kinsella got it wrong, as do most referees. Two minutes of added time was allocated, but there were more stoppages in injury time. Look at Morgan’s late free; the foul occurred before normal time had elapsed and it used up almost a minute of added time.

Cavanagh’s booking from the resultant kick-out was another delay. The ball was only in play for around 20 seconds and the fact that Tyrone had gained possession and were moving forward when Kinsella blew the final whistle only added to their frustration.

This is a problem that the GAA are going to have to look at. The black card rule has placed more pressure on referees and has made their job more difficult. Anything that can reduce their workload should be encouraged and I think time-keeping should be taken out of their hands.

Monaghan face Armagh in front of the Sky Sports cameras on June 28 and I expect them to start some of their more creative forwards. Because they played with an out-and-out sweeper against Tyrone, they sacrificed the likes of Paul Finlay and Jack McCarron in order to get more work rate and energy around the middle of the field. I’d imagine at least one of those players will be involved from the start against Armagh. McManus will also have another two weeks of training under his belt and will be much sharper.

Clash

I’ll be at Markievicz Park on Saturday for the Connacht semi-final between Sligo and Galway, which is very much a clash of youth and mobility against experience and strength. I faced Sligo last year with Fermanagh and they are very strong around the middle third. They have players who have served their county with distinction but are coming to the end of their careers, whereas the bulk of Galway’s team is young men who have been successful at underage level and are still learning their trade.

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A good example of this would be in the forwards, where you have the two experienced, wily heads of Mark Breheny and David Kelly, against the youthful exuberance of Shane Walsh and Danny Cummins. The roles of those two key attackers on both sides will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

It has been five years since Galway last reached a Connacht final and there is bound to serious hunger in their panel. They will be chastened by the fact that they’ve lost their last two games against Sligo in 2010 and 2012. I imagine you’d have to go back some way to find the last time Galway lost three championship matches in a row to Sligo.

Galway will not take Sligo for granted because of those defeats. It will be the first real test for Alan Mulholland’s young side. Yes they were very disappointing in last year’s Connacht Championship, where Mayo destroyed them, but they made progress through the back door. Big questions are going to be asked of them on Saturday evening, and Mulholland will want them to provide the answers.

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