Former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan believes the ‘knives will be out’ for long-serving manager Mickey Harte if the Red Hand fail to come through tomorrow’s tricky All-Ireland qualifier trip to Newbridge.
Mulligan didn’t read much into last weekend’s win over Longford, in which Tyrone struggled at times, but doesn’t like the vibe he has noticed in the Tyrone camp.
He told Paddy Power News: “It was a nothing game for Tyrone on Saturday. Win by ten points and you were playing a poor team. Don’t win by enough and you are a poor team. It’s hard to know where we are with Tyrone at the minute. There are still loads of question marks around them.
“When Mickey started running the bench the arse fell out of it a bit and Longford ended up posting a scoreline that definitely flattered them. Tyrone for their part look like a side not happy in their own skin. I see too many long faces coming out of changing rooms after games. It all looks like too much hard work for them at present.
“A trip to Kildare on Saturday night isn’t a nice place to go to start feeling better about yourself. A win is a must for Tyrone or the knives will be out for Harte. It’s very much a case of a win in ‘Newbridge or Nowhere’ for Tyrone this weekend.”
Mulligan agrees Tyrone’s Ulster conquerors Donegal are now the number one pretenders to Dublin’s throne.
After sweeping Tyrone aside in the Ulster semi-final, Donegal turned it up a notch on Sunday and by half-time the writing was on the wall for Cavan.
"To score 1-24 in an Ulster final was a signal of intent. They also missed three goal chances in the first half, which could have been embarrassing for Cavan.
“It used to be Michael Murphy and Paddy McBrearty who were trusted with all the scoring duties and if you marked them, Donegal would struggle. Now they’re blessed with scorers from all positions. All of their forwards scored on Sunday. Ryan McHugh, Paddy McGrath and Eoghan Bán Gallagher never stopped all evening. Jamie Brennan was his usual classy self and I’m really starting to enjoy watching him light up the Championship.
“We are starting to sit up and take notice of Donegal and that question is starting to be asked, are they number one contenders to stop ‘the Drive for Five’. At this early stage, I believe they’re the only ones that’s showing any promise.
“Scoring 24 points in a championship match, never mind a final, takes some doing. This is a major weapon Donegal have coming into the business end of the Championship, to have the ability to shoot confidently and freely over the bar. With so many players able to slot them from so many positions, Donegal are a real threat going forward. It is a breath of fresh air.
“Apart from the Dubs, I don’t believe there’s a team in Ireland with so many players in their starting 15 capable of converting these sort of chances, which is a major plus.”