Monaghan v Tyrone – Tyrone Too Tough?

Monaghan v Tyrone

Monaghan take on Mickey Harte’s Tyrone side looking to defend their Ulster title. I try and find some value bets in this preview.

Rumours that the American Pie team are interested in doing an Ulster Championship parody are likely to be false. They’d have their ‘and one time in band camp..’ moment from the Armagh-Cavan skirmish last weekend, but will this weekend mark a rite of passage for a group of eager Farney men?The current crop of Monaghan players has greatly enhanced the trophy cabinet of their county, but none of them have savoured senior success over Tyrone.

As Indian signs go, the one that big chief Red Hand (ie Mickey Harte) enjoys a fairly substantial one over the blue and white. After the glory of Monaghan’s first Ulster title since 1988, the sheen was slightly taken off their Anglo-Celt success with their loss to Tyrone in the Quarter-finals in Croker.

Kieran Hughes, a key player in their march to Ulster glory, saw red against Tyrone that day and he’ll be eager to make amends. His clash with Justin McMahon will be a key one to this game. With Conor McManus sidelined, Hughes’ role in spear-heading the Farney attack gains more gravity.

Monaghan have much to be positive about. While they looked a bit hungover in that quarter-final game, they fought back well into the game. Then came the Sean Cavanagh Six Nations’ effort on McManus that spawned the black card. That was crucial as Conor looked odds on to hit the net.

Monaghan also have home advantage and they’ve been running up healthy totals all through the league. Their Division 2 win over Donegal showed they’re still hungry for silverware. They’ll also have the motivation to get the Red Hand monkey off their back.
If McManus was available then the 11/8 about them would look tempting and the 11/4 half-time/full-time would as well.

Tyrone are harder to pigeon hole than a pigeon’s hole. When they click as a unit, they look formidable. Against Cork in the league this year, Kyle Coney, in particular, and Darren McCurry were full of zip and exceptional scores. However, that game showed the downside to Tyrone. They switched to sleep mode and let Cork take over before rallying late on, similar to their preliminary round first clash with Down.

However, they should have learned from that collapse, and if they do get a run on Monaghan then the Farney may struggle to pen them back. Monaghan can, and need to, win the middle of the park. Big Eoin Lennon and Darren Hughes are a fantastic mix of a fielding, holding midfielder and an attacking threat. At centre-back Dessie Mone’s powering on to breaks help them in the possession stakes.

It’s hard to get away from Tyrone’s dominance over Monaghan in the last decade though, and even if they play second fiddle in the middle Tyrone can still score more with less. Peter Harte’s driving runs allied to Cavanagh’s ability to gain possession can help Tyrone overcome any failings of their midfield pairing.

Clones is no strange venue for the Red Hands and, just as with Stifler’s mom, they can make experience count. The 4/5 about them is a fair price.