I wasn’t at today’s game in Omagh and I didn’t even get to hear that much about it on the radio. To compound matters, I feel, frankly, like shite as there’s been a bug sweeping through Chez Willie Joe since Thursday and by last night I began to feel its baneful effects. All day today, my bones have been aching, my head has felt like there’s a cement mixer or something inside it and I just want to crawl back into my bed and go to sleep for a few weeks.
Before I do so, it’s worth, I suppose, jotting down a few thoughts about today’s game. I’ve precious little to go on in terms of source material, with Mayofans.com curiously silent on the event, leaving Setanta, gaaboard.com and this pithy match report from RTE as the only reference points out there in cyberspace at this stage. Oh well, at least it’ll mean that I get to see the Nine O’Clock News tonight.
Positives first: we retained our Division One status (with Kildare only drawing with Laois, our match had no bearing at all on who got to fill the two relegation places) and, for the first time since last year’s league final, we completed a match without conceding a goal. From the reports, it seems that we battled back fairly gamely from a position of being six points down early in the second half to lose by just two points at the end.
But before we get too happy with ourselves, it’s another defeat, the second in a row and the fourth in seven league encounters. With a penalty miss from Andy Moran in the first half and the same player also spurning a good goal chance in the second half, it looks as if we could have got something from this game had we been a little sharper in front of the posts. In addition, Tyrone’s two-man full-forward line seemed to play puck with our defence late in the first half and early in the second, during which period Tyrone stretched their lead to six points. The dispatches all mention Brian McGuigan’s successful return to competitive football and it looks as if he gave Trevor Howley a tough time of it for the full seventy minutes.
The league was never a target for us, of course, and, we knew all along that this year’s NFL was going to be used primarily as an exercise to blood new players. We’ve certainly done that and, in the process, have learned a lot about the capabilities of the guys coming through. There’s still much to be sorted, though, in particular the full-back line and the half-forwards and I doubt even Johnno has a clear mind at this stage as to who the starting fifteen will be on June 22nd. At least this year we’re not faced with a shit-or-bust championship opener before the end of May, following hard on the heels of the culmination of our league campaign, though the flip side of this is that we’ve now got ten whole weeks to wait before the lads take on Sligo (or London) in the Connacht semi-final. We can’t have it every way, I suppose.