Hard to see past Tyrone

FIRST things first we don’t see Mayo winning this game. In fact TIALTNGO has been bold enough to have a punt on the All-Ireland champions in my weekly GAA bet which could be a very good omen for John O’Mahony the way I’ve been going in the betting recently . . .

TURNING BACK TIME?: Unfortunately not. Sean Cavanagh is the ultra modern footballer and will give Mayo plenty of it on Sunday.

TURNING BACK TIME?: Unfortunately not. Sean Cavanagh is the ultra modern footballer and will give Mayo plenty of it on Sunday.

But my logic is this – Tyrone have only 12 points difference on Dublin. Were Dublin to stuff Westmeath by 12 (entirely possible) and Donegal beat Derry, then Mayo defeating Tyrone by even a point would relegate the All-Ireland champs. Mayo have a greater safety net than Tyrone  and it would take a complete drubbing of Westmeath by de Dubs to consign us to Division 2 for next year.

So, clearly, Tyrone have more to play for and its hard to imagine them losing a game against Mayo which is of greater significance to the Ulster men. Mickey Harte may not be able to start clubmates Brian Dooher and Stephen O’Neill as both are recovering from injury lay-offs and Tommy McGuigan (suspended) but the forward line still packs a punch.

Sean Cavanagh will give us yet further indication of how Ger Cafferkey is faring at full-back. The 2008 Footballer of the Year will be an even further step-up from the challenge of marking Michael Meehan. Either side of him is Niall Gormley and Owen Mulligan. Gormley is somewhat of a surprise selection ahead of the likes of Shaun O’Neill and Colm Cavanagh but will be keen to impress while we’re witnessing a more streamlined Mulligan this year and Liam O’Malley will have his hands full.

Tom Cunniffe, like Cafferkey, will be given a chance to show how he’s fitting into a central position by pitting his wits against a serious operator. Brian McGuigan may never be the same player he was in 2005 when he was one of the country’s best players (amazingly overlooked for the All Star at centre-half forward, which went to Peter Canavan in what was a nod to his overall greatness, not his performances that year) but he’s still a class act.

Just back from injury this is his first NFL start this year but he came on in the second half against Derry last time out and was one of the main reasons for Tyrone’s late march to victory. It is the type of test Cunniffe needs and with Trevor Howley back training, its one he’ll been keen to pass.

After haemorrhaging at midfield in the first half against Galway, Ballina duo Harte and McGarrity will be expected to perform from the start this time and they’ll get their fill of it from the physical pair of Kevin Hughes and Enda McGinley. We’ll have it all to do in midfield I fear.

Which brings us to our attack and some very interesting battles, mainly down the middle.

NEED A HAND LADS?: Sean Cavanagh, Brian McGuigan and Kevin Hughes and some Tyrone supporters receive a hand celebrating after last year's All-Ireland. Presumably 'our lad' will know who to cheer for on Sunday.

NEED A HAND LADS?: Sean Cavanagh, Brian McGuigan and Kevin Hughes and some Tyrone supporters receive a hand celebrating after last year's All-Ireland. Presumably 'our lad' will know who to cheer for on Sunday.

If Trevor Mortimer and Ryan McMenamin could be miked up I’d pay good money to hear the recording. It will be talk central between two volataile characters while full-forward Aidan O’Shea, still only 18, will get a proper introduction to inter-county senior football on Sunday. He did well on a classy full-back in Finian Hanley in the Galway game but Conor Gormley is a different animal altogether.

And animal isn’t an unwarranted description (and not in an insulting way mind). Gormley is as ferocious a defender as you will find and one of the most underrated elements in the Tyrone system. He’s one of the best defenders of the last ten years in TIALTNGO’s opinion and we’ll know a lot more about Aidan O’Shea after Sunday.

That said it’s a big ask for the young lad six days before an All-Ireland U-21 semi-final and we can’t agree with the selection of him and fellow U-21 star Kevin McLoughlin (who starts at corner-back) but  we’ve been over that already.

Conor Mortimer is named on the bench. When we’ll we see him? Perhaps from the start. We’ll leave it at that. Oh, and Tyrone by 3.

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