What a performance that was.
The reigning county champions are attempting to do what no Tyrone club has done since Carrickmore back in 2005, and win back to back championships.
The club is best known for producing GAA legends such as Mickey Harte and Peter Canavan, and now the former’s son manages the team, while Canavan has two boys ripping defences apart up front.
They played Ardboe in the semi-final, a team managed by Gavin Devlin who was the assistant to Harte at Tyrone, Louth and now Derry, and with stars like Kyle Coney up front, many were expecting a tight affair.
Around ten minutes in that’s exactly what it looked like we were going to get, as Ardboe kicked the first two scores, defended with intensity, and looked really up for the match.
However, once Errigal Ciaran found their groove, and in particular when Darragh Canavan put on his shooting boots, the game quickly went from being competitive to becoming an exhibition.
After a rapid fire of scores, Canavan produced a moment of magic, running down the right hand wing, with the ball on the floor, he used a bit of soccer skill to knock it around his oncoming opponent, before going around him to scoop it up, and then letting fly with a beautiful shot off the left to soar over the bar.
Not willing to let the Canavans have all the fun, their brother-in-law Peter Harte decided to try out this O’Neill’s ball that seemed to go over the bar automatically, and despite being over 50m out that’s exactly what he did.
Although he barely had time to appreciate his own brilliance, as Darragh continued to do Darragh things, kicking another wonder score from distance, just to remind everyone who the star of the show really is.
What was truly impressive was their ability to mix the best attributes of modern and classic football. A lot of naysayers and sourpusses have claimed that Gaelic football is a dead game, with no kicking or catching in it.
Then the tactical enthusiasts, who enjoy watching defensive displays, kick-out plans, and innovative strategies, love the what’s deemed as the modern game, claiming to find it ‘intriguing.’
However, the current Tyrone champions merged the two into a hybrid of destruction, as they ripped Ardboe to shreds with their devastating and dynamic style of play.
They did defend in numbers, sprinting back in packs, ripping the ball out of their oppositions hands, and then bursting forward at pace, playing it through the hands with a lot of slickness and style.
Their defensive display was so formidable that their opposition went a full 25mins without getting a score, and only kicked four from play in total.
On the other hand, the purists were drooling at the mouth to see plenty of scores come from the classic ‘kick and catch’ formula, with plenty of heads up football being showcased.
With Darragh being on the inside, and Ruairi playing more as a centre half forward, it’s no wonder that the team trusted who they were kicking too, who was making the right runs, and ultimately, that they would more often than not win the ball that was sent into them.
A key example was when the youngest brother found his older sibling with a long range pass, and although accurate, it still took a lot of bravery, skill and strength for Darragh to throw himself at at, catch while rolling on the ground, before bouncing up to claim the mark and inevitably slotting it over.
They were still smart when they broke in numbers however, and county star Joe Oguz got a goal in the first half off the back of a sharp break from defence, with the ball moved at pace through the hands.
The game was all but over by half time, and in the second half, the game did become hard to watch, as the one-sided destruction continued, and Errigal Ciaran mixed up their scores, with even their full back Aidan McCrory getting a goal.
If you heard that the winning team actually scored five of their points by fisting it over the bar, you would assume that they were very boring, but at in contrast to that, if you seen some of the unbelievable scores that the likes of Darragh and Peter Harte converted, you would have them pinned as a very exciting team.
The truth is somewhere in the middle, as their blend of both styles meant that they won the game by an incredible 18 points, and will now play Trillick in the final.
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