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Analysis: Attacking Ulster football, brilliant Beggan and Tyrone's discipline

A breakdown of yesterday’s hugely entertaining affair in Omagh.

Updated at 17:00

I’LL BE HONEST, when I sat down to watch this game yesterday I feared the worst.

I thought we’d get another timid affair between two very slow-transitioning, defensive outfits. Thankfully I was wrong.

Conall McCann and Conor McCarthy Source: James Crombie/INPHO

This game was what the public badly wanted: two teams playing a fantastic brand of counter-attacking football that was topped off by some incredible scores.

Below is a brief summary of the match’s key events:

Rory Beggan kicks a free Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Rory Beggan

If the All-Stars were picked now, Rory Beggan would be guaranteed the number one spot after yesterday’s performance. This is not just down to his kickouts either but that’s where I’ll start.

Despite Tyrone not pushing on all Monaghan kickouts, Beggan’s kicking was of the highest quality at all times. His chipping of the ball to the wings is a joy to watch. When Tyrone did push on Beggan, he continued to deliver with accuracy.

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You’d wonder, is it best for teams to sit off Beggan’s kickouts and try to set a tackle engagement line further out the pitch?

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He also gave a fine display in placed-ball shooting yesterday – scoring two long-range frees and two 45s.

It ended a fine day for the Monaghan number one, he finished with 90% retention on his kickouts, 80% on placed kicks (the one he missed hit the upright) and also won four turnovers.

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Superb shooting

One of the major differences between this tie and last weekend’s Galway-Mayo clash was the standard of shooting we saw in Omagh.

Monaghan finished the game with 66% shooting efficiency and Tyrone with an even better 71%. But the big difference was the contrasting number of attacks and shots. Monaghan ended with 39 attacks and 29 shots to Tyrone’s 30 attacks and 24 shots.

At times, Tyrone fell victim to slow build-up play and transition from defence to attack. Monaghan, on the other hand, continued to move the ball fast and used both quick hand passing to and kick passing to bypass the two sweepers Tyrone used at the back.

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There were some breathtaking scores in the game, but two stood out above the rest.

First up is the Conor McManus point we’re all talking about today. It arrived when the Farney were three up and it really put the icing on the cake for his team.

The second one came from the boot of Dessie Mone in the 59th minute from a ridiculous angle. This effort came when the game was well and truly in the melting pot.

Since the shooting was of such a high-quality yesterday, below is a two-minute snippet just showing how good it was.


One area of the game that will disappoint both Malachy O Rourke and more so Mickey Harte, was the amount of kickable frees conceded by both sides.

Monaghan conceded six scoreable frees in this game and Tyrone converted all six of them.

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Tyrone conceded eight kickable frees and their opponents converted seven of the eight. This will disappoint Harte massively, knowing the difference was only two points in the finish.

Future opponents of both Monaghan and the Red Hands will know that to have a chance of beating them, the number of frees conceded will have to be kept to a minimum.

Tyrone had accurate kickers in Lee Brennan and Connor McAliskey, while Beggan, McManus and Jack McCarron were effective shooters for the Farney.

The difference

When looking over this game, a few things stood out that edged it for Monaghan. Most notably, Beggan’s kickouts and place kicking, their more fluent transition game and higher intensity level.

One key factor was Monaghan’s game management. This was shown in the way they pushed up on Morgan’s kickouts at certain periods in the game. They changed their style mid-game from pressing on each restart to sitting off on certain kickouts.

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When they pressed on the Tyrone kickout they did extremely well. It’s hugely impressive for any team to come away from playing Tyrone having won 35% of Morgan’s restarts.

The big reward from this was the Farney scoring three points directly from winning the Tyrone kickout. Harte’s men, on the other hand, scored one point directly from winning the Monaghan restart.

Tiernan McCann and Cathal McShane with Dessie Ward Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Going forward

Like Mayo last week, Tyrone now face an incredible challenge of winning four qualifiers to make the Super 8s.

I think they’ll make it to that stage if they can speed up their transition from defence to attack and also ensure their discipline and tackling are at the required level.

This Monaghan outfit appear as well-rounded as they’ve ever done, with a more fluent counter-attacking style, strong physical runners and some top class forwards in their ranks.

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Sean Murphy

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