Analysis: Kickouts, shooting, lack of intensity and ill-discipline, but Tyrone survive almighty scare

The42′s analyst Sean Murphy takes a closer look at yesterday’s Ulster SFC opener.

IT WAS A weekend that had Division Four outfit Limerick beating hot favourites Tipperary, Wicklow pushing Kildare close, Clare stumbling over the line against Waterford and John Maughan’s Offaly running Meath to the wire.

But, Derry — who operated from Division Four in the 2019 National League — gave Tyrone — who finished third in Division One — an almighty scare in Healy Park. The Red Hand needed all 70 minutes to put them away.

Tyrone players stand for the National Anthem Tyrone stand for the national anthem. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Mickey Harte and his team will come away happy to have had a six-point win in the finish and that they have a championship game under their belt, but there is no doubt that there are some headaches and concerns over the way his team performed throughout the 70 minutes for him to reflect on if they are to return to the All-Ireland final in 2019.



Tyrone’s persistence not to press up on opposition kickouts as much as possible is, for me, one of the reasons why they will not be lifting the Sam Maguire in 2019.

This is not a new issue for Tyrone, it has been a problem over the past two years and one that they still have not rectified. Derry had 26 kickouts with Tyrone winning seven of those (27%). On a deeper look into these restarts, Tyrone allowed Thomas Mallon to go short uncontested on twelve occasions.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 14.32.40 Source: @GaaStatsman.

It was only in times of pressure and late on in the game that Tyrone felt the need to press up on the Derry kickout. The problem with allowing them to go short was that it allowed Derry to gain momentum when they decided to play a shorter style game and this was the game plan that caused Tyrone the most problems.

Interestingly when Tyrone did push up on Thomas Mallon’s kickouts, they forced 14 contested kickouts. They went on to win seven of these kickouts, that’s 50%. Of these seven kickouts that they won, they went on to score four points from play.

It is vital that Tyrone make a more genuine effort to press up on the opposition kickouts going forward or they will not be able to compete with the top teams in the country and try to go that one step further than their All-Ireland final appearance in 2018 — to notem in that final they only won a meagre 6% of Dublin’s kickouts and allowed Dublin to go short on 23 restarts.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 14.33.34 Source: @GaaStatsman.


One of the main reasons that Tyrone allowed Derry to stay in this game was through the total lack of discipline that they adapted throughout.

Mickey Harte’s men allowed Derry nine kickable frees, to which Derry converted all nine through the sharp shooting of Ryan Bell and Shane McGuigan. There is no way that Tyrone can afford to do this again and if they do, it will surely end in defeat.

This again is another trait that has not happened overnight, In the three games that Tyrone lost in 2018, they conceded a combined total of 20 kickable frees. This is not good enough and will continuously be punished by the top teams.

Lack Of Intensity

This was not like the Ulster Championship that we are used to where it is full of high intensity tackling, big hits and dispossessions. This game contained none of that and was lacklustre through its entirety.

Mickey Harte Tyrone manager Mickey Harte. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Tyrone finished the game with a total of 30 tackles while Derry racked up 24. Tyrone’s average in 2018 was 47. The stat which sums up how tame this game was is that there was not one blockdown made between both teams in the full 70 plus minutes.

Shooting Efficiency

One area that will please both managers is their shooting efficiency. Tyrone will also be quite content with their attack efficiency.

From 36 attacks (the ball entering the opposition 45 metre line) Tyrone had a return of 30 shots — 24 from play and six from placed kicks, That’s an attack efficiency of 83%. Out of the 30 shots, Tyrone converted a total of 20 scores — 1-19 which leaves an attack efficiency of 67% of which any manager would be happy with.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 14.35.48 Source: @GaaStatsman.

Cathal McShane must be given a mention here for an outstanding afternoon throughout and for being a nightmare to the Derry defence, He finished his evening with a total of seven points, five from play. It was not just his scoring that was being showcased though, but his fine fielding of the ball inside.

Derry on the other end had a total of 29 attacks and amassed 18 shots — 62%. From the 18 shots, they converted 14 scores — 1-13 leaving a shot efficiency of 78%. Derry only had 1 wide throughout the full game.

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 14.34.49 Source: @GaaStatsman.

What will disappoint Derry manager Damian McErlain is that despite the high shooting efficiency, they were only able to tally 1-5 from play and squandered some attacks by kicking first time ball into the D area making for easy ball for the Tyrone defence to deal with when they were causing Tyrone greater problems by working the ball through a running game.

Key Battles 

One of the matchups to savour in this game was that of Karl McKaigue and Peter Harte. It is fair to say that McKaigue frustrated Harte from start to finish, putting in an excellent shift holding the Errigal clubman scoreless from play. 

Brendan Rogers also had a very interesting evening, firstly picking up Cathal McShane who got two points on him in the early exchanges. Rogers then went to mark Mattie Donnelly who was causing problems for the Derry defence linking up with his brother Richie on two occasions. Donnelly struggled to get to grips with the change.

Cathal McShane however scored two more points before Rogers returned.

Cathal McShane with Brendan Rogers and Liam McGoldrick Cathal McShane and Brendan Rogers battle for the ball. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Paul McNeil did an excellent job on Niall Sludden, holding him scoreless.

Credit must go to Michael Cassidy who scored two points on his debut with bursting runs forward.

Also to note, Padraig Hampsey did not look comfortable in the sweeper role in the Tyrone defence.


Albeit the first day out and a new year, it would seem that Tyrone may still have some of the same problems that let them down in 2018. They will have to push higher up on the opposition kickouts and also improve their discipline greatly. These however are not overnight problems and will be hard fixed.

At the moment, they are not within the top three teams in the hunt for Sam Maguire. While they may still win Ulster, it would seem now that they are somewhat off All Ireland glory.

Derry on the other can be encouraged going into the qualifiers with a valiant performance against a Division One outfit. They will be a tough draw for whoever they meet in Round One of the qualifiers.   

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Sean Murphy

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