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Tyrone simply too hot for Antrim

Austin O'Callaghan | 09:59 UK time, Monday, 24 May 2010

We said goodbye to the Championship ties at Casement Park on Sunday. It was Peter Canavan's idea.

And a good one at that, given that the temperature in our portable studio - made mostly from metal - was about 150 degrees! We were like three fried eggs in those seats.

The panoramic view of the west Belfast pitch through our studio window is arguably the most impressive of all the Ulster venues - and was enhanced by the fine weather. And yet, it was a strange sort of day. Was it just me or was the atmosphere surprisingly flat given the summer weather and the healthy attendance of 18,249?

Dermot Carlin and Tyrone were too good for Tony Scullion's Antrim at Casement Park

Maybe the energy-sapping sun had a little to do with it. But it is more likely that the subdued nature of the home crowd was largely down to Tyrone. They were impressive. Those rumours of 'decline' can now go in the bin thanks very much.

From Stephen O'Neill's point in the opening minute, to Brian Dooher playing like an 18-year-old, to Owen Mulligan's goal which took me back to Croke Park '05 for a moment. They were a level above their opponents.

It wasn't a perfect display but it sends out a little message to the rest. My pre-championship prediction of the Anglo Celt Cup passing by Armagh and Tyrone this summer looks to be on shaky ground already.

There will, hopefully, be better days ahead for Antrim. But they were well beaten here however you slice it.

Even when they closed the gap to three points, you never really felt Tyrone were in serious danger. Peter Canavan said as much after the Kevin Niblock goal. Tyrone, he felt, could 'up it' again if they needed to. And he was right.

We will bring our ties to McCumhaill Park this Sunday. Oisin McConville swaps his Radio Ulster microphone for a Championship suit this week. He will be with us in Ballybofey for Donegal v Down.

The big question in the west is 'what sort of Donegal team will show up'?

I was at their team media conference last weekend. The one thing they won't lack for is commitment.

Take 20-year-old Michael Murphy who sat a university exam in Dublin on Saturday morning, then jumped into a car and headed to Ballybofey to field an hour of questions from the media. Then he togged out for a 90-minute training session with his team-mates in 27 degrees of heat.

He has a lot on his plate at the moment but seems to have a steady and determined head on those big shoulders.

I am delighted to see Down on the comeback trail. They have a lot of promise. But I am going to take a punt on Donegal this weekend to join Tyrone in the semis.


  • Comment number 1.

    The atmosphere in Casement was flat, almost subdued to be fair. Antrim were totally outclassed in every department. I think Down will beat Donegal this Sunday and Armagh will beat Monaghan (with a few to spare) so it will be an Armagh v Tyrone final with an Armagh win by about 4 points!


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