As is so often the case after a relatively one sided match, trying to consider the underlying reason can be difficult, i.e. were Tyrone great or were Derry woeful. Traditionally Celtic Park has been a very difficult place for visitors to win, and that should have been especially so for Tyrone, given the depth of the rivalry. Much of the analysis since has tended to concentrate on Tyrone, with plaudits indicating that they are there or thereabouts for an All Ireland.
I’m not sure that’s the case. I thought Derry were absolutely woeful. They are at a low enough ebb anyway but their performance was pretty poverty stricken. They kept in touch early on with some excellent points from far out and from acute angles, but that was never going to generate enough scores to leave them challenging after an hour. Indeed, the game was gone in little over half that time - the Tyrone goals effectively killing the game off. Tyrone cruised to the final whistle in a non-event.
Tyrone will of course be there or thereabouts in Ulster, and barring some sort of unforeseen disaster, they should be playing in Croke Park in August, although not necessarily as Ulster Champions. I would guess that any of Cavan, Donegal or Monaghan would represent a much more formidable challenge than Derry, and if Monaghan can gain some self belief, then they have what it takes to overcome Tyrone. Tyrone to my mind are too reliant on the Cavanaghs, and thereafter they strike me as being quite physically small. I just couldn’t see them getting to an All Ireland.
Derry I’d imagine will implode quite soon in the qualifiers and the knives will be out for Barton. That will allow everyone in Derry to get on with what they enjoy most - club football.
We take our bow tomorrow in Cavan. They beat us by seventeen points in the league, with suggestions in some quarters that we took a bit of a dive ahead of this game. Even if there was some truth in that, then I can’t see it making any difference tomorrow, as quite simply Cavan are a better team than ourselves and also have home advantage. We had an abject Championship last year, and got relegated in the league this year, whilst Cavan in contrast got promoted. I think we’re up against it.
A source told me that Geezer is very optimistic about this Ulster campaign - if this is genuine, then he clearly has an insight that I do not have. I would expect us to get beat tomorrow by between 4 and 7, but would hope that we can put in a commendable performance that gives some hope for the future. A repeat of last year’s Championship would be severely damaging, not just to morale in the County, but to Geezer’s long term tenure. I would hate to see it happen, but the reality might be somewhat different.