‘The home of Sexy Football’ was how we described Ulster Football on our weekly podcasts over the last few weeks. We talked up yesterday’s Ulster final as ‘The Game Of The Summer So Far?’ and described our reasons for justified optimism. But that optimism soon changed to pessimism.
Listening to Bernard Flynn on RTÉ radio after the game, one could have been mistaken for thinking a classic unfolded. Even watching the highlights could have conned people. There was some great long range points kicked and a tense finish was there to be seen. But it only covered the tracks of a truly awful 70 minutes.
Here we identify the main five reasons as to why the Ulster Football Final was such a disappointing affair.
- The Defensive Set-Up’s
It’s the most obvious thing and it is hardly anything new in Gaelic Football but it was clearly evident is yesterday’s game that it had a very negative impact on its quality. Both teams took a very negative approach to the game. Attack was not each teams main aim, it was defending. And this definitely hindered its quality overall.
- The Lack Of Quality Counter Attacking
As mentioned in the first point, the defensive set-ups are nothing new. But Tyrone and Donegal have specialised in counter-attacking football. They draw teams on but attack at a devastating pace and get their top class forwards on the ball to do the damage.
But none of this was on show yesterday. Both teams carried the ball up the field at a pedestrian pace. It was so slow that almost anybody could have joined in and not looked out of place. The attacking mind-sets of both teams was a huge disappointment.
- Not Seeing Good Players Perform Like They Can
Donegal and Tyrone both have a large number of excellent footballers in their respective sides and it’s safe to say that we did not see any of these players perform anywhere near close to the best of their abilities. Sean Cavanagh was a deserved Man of the Match recipient but it was by no means his best game in a Tyrone jersey.
Peter Harte kicked two points including a monster effort to put Tyrone in front in stoppage time, but he was nowhere near as effective as he can be. Ronan O’Neill and Conor McAliskey have been the two main attacking threats for Tyrone this year and neither made any impact on the game.
Donegal’s Michael Murphy was pretty much ineffective from play. Karl Lacey and Frank McGlynn rarely made any lung-busting runs from defence, the latter was even withdrawn in the second-half. Some of Ireland’s best footballers were on show and we did not see any of them perform close to their best, mainly as a result of the tactics adopted by both sides.
- Seeing A ‘Must Not Lose’ Mentality
It was a provincial final, both teams had a safety net of the qualifiers. While their qualifier route is a tricky one, regardless of yesterday’s result, both teams were guaranteed a second chance. Taking this into account, everyone expected both teams to really go for it, but neither team did.
Both teams went out not to lose the game, neither team went out to really go and win it. It led to an awful encounter. As mentioned above, good players were not given an opportunity to play like they can. Players played like programmed robots and the result was a very boring encounter.
- Watching Two All-Ireland Contenders Provide Such A Poor Game
Donegal and Tyrone are seeing as two out of maximum of four teams that have any glimmer of hope of beating Dublin. They are seen as proper contenders for the All-Ireland title and two teams that have the ability to trouble the Boys in Blue for 70 minutes.
If that game yesterday is the best that those two teams can produce, then one has to be worried. Could we see a repeat of Dublin and Donegal in 2011? After yesterday, it is not impossible.