Sunday July 16
Ulster Senior Football Championship Final
Down v Tyrone, St Tiernach’s Park, Clones, 2pm
Mickey Harte knows all about the danger Down carry. The past five Championship encounters involving Tyrone and Down provide an insight into why Harte reckons Sunday’s decider is so dangerous.
One Down win, two draws, and a couple of Tyrone triumphs. All the games were hard fought with the 2014 tussle the only time Tyrone prevailed without any real stress or drama.
The other four went the distance, Down famously overcoming Tyrone in a replay in 2008. Tyrone, though, were eventually crowned All Ireland champions in that campaign, but Down’s role in that campaign was never forgotten by the Red Hands.
Satisfied to have outfoxed neighbours Armagh, Down then dealt with a shaky start against Monaghan before prevailing following a thriller.
Connaire Harrison’s full forward play caused Monaghan problems, while Darragh O’Hanlon kicked the frees with a sense of coolness and consistency.
Kevin McKernan stitched the play together nicely too for Eamonn Burns’ team, who are quietly confident about causing another surprise in this decider.
Tyrone were powerful in their triumphs over Derry and Donegal. Remaining on top of the Ulster summit is clearly what Mickey Harte’s outfit wants to do.
Donegal arrived into the penultimate round armed with a growing and favourable reputation, but they were blitzed by Tyrone.
Scoring 1-21, Tyrone dominated the vast majority of that game with Colm Cavanagh immense, while Mattie Donnelly, Peter Harte, Niall Sludden, and Tiernan McCann repeatedly made important incisions.
Twelve Tyrone players contributed scores, another clear sign of how dominant the Red Hands were throughout against Donegal.
Down will pose questions with Harrision’s aerial ability inside certain to be used by Down, especially in the early stages.
There isn’t too much wrong with a stingy Tyrone defence, but they showing themselves to be increasingly smart when breaking at speed.
McCann, Sludden, Donnelly, Harte and the McCann brothers are versatile fluid footballers, who are striving to ensure Tyrone retain the Ulster title.
DOWN: Michael Cunningham; Niall McParland, Gerard McGovern, Darren O’Hagan; Darragh O’Hanlon, Conaill McGovern, Caolan Mooney; Kevin McKernan, Niall Donnelly; Joe Murphy, Conor Maginn, Shay Millar; Jerome Johnston, Connaire Harrison, Ryan Johnston.
TYRONE: Niall Morgan; Aidan McCrory, Ronan McNamee, Cathal McCarron; Tiernan McCann, Padraig Hampsey, Peter Harte; Colm Cavanagh, Conall McCann; David Mulgrew, Niall Sludden, Kieran McGeary; Mark Bradley, Sean Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly.