Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

3 July 1997 Edition

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Sportsview: Tyrone limp offstage

By Brian Campbell

I'll pass quietly over the humiliation of Tyrone. But not too quietly. They were slowly and steadily taken apart by Derry until at the end a handpassing session in the middle of the field made Derry look like the brilliant - and super-arrogant - Leeds soccer team of the 70s - and will have been such an embarrassment for this Tyrone team that every waking moment until next year's Championship will be spent plotting Derry's downfall (and every sleeping moment will be spent having nightmares about it). The Derry supporters were even giving an `ole' as each pass was made.

It all started so well for Tyrone with a goal in the second minute, and we settled down for a classic struggle, but what a false dawn that was. They never got a look-in after it, notwithstanding Mattie McGleenan's superb goal in the second half.

Derry's victory showed once again what an asset wounded pride is in this parochial game. They were well beaten by Tyrone last year and were constantly reminded of it by their near neighbours. It turned them into stealthy conspirators who kept a low profile and plotted dark deeds of vengeance. Tyrone couldn't have been over-confident but they weren't at that peak of psychological fitness that a burning hunger for victory brings. It makes all the difference.

Mayo also had an easy victory, over Leitrim, but this was not unexpected. It was a dour game, as most of the football championship has been this year. Maybe they're saving the best for the good weather.

Overshadowing the gaelic has been the performances of Ireland's under-20 soccer squad in Malaysia. They were the first Irish team to get through to the semi-finals of a World Cup tournament and they did it playing a controlled, passing style of football. And even though the tournament drew little media attention until last week, their semi-final against Argentina, which was live on TV at 9.30am on Wednesday drew a big audience. At least that's judging from the crowds in Dublin's `early houses'. There are still pubs in this city which open at 7.00am (many's a morning I've passed along Moore Street and shaken my hungover head at a band of diehards supping pints for breakfast).

The young team - even without two of their most experienced members who had been kept back by Mick McCarthy because, as members of the senior squad, he wanted them to take a summer break - were under pressure for most of the match but were unlucky to lose to a scrappy Argentinian goal.

The commentary on RTE was poor with George Hamilton seemingly having little information to impart about where the players were from and what their footballing background was. Because these are unknown players and virtually all born and brought up in Ireland, that was just the type of information the audience wanted. It was a pity George didn't ferret it out.

After watching this great young side it's difficult to argue with those who said that Jack Charlton's style set back Irish football by years. His long-ball game was effective - until they played in high heat and humidity - but I doubt if we'll see the likes of it again.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1