‘I’ve slated Morgan in the past, but what he did in the second half took some balls. You have to give him credit’

OWEN MULLIGAN HAS praised the efforts of Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan for how he responded to a mix-up over a short kick-out which led to a goal against Donegal in last weekend’s Super 8s clash.

Morgan was trying to link-up with defender Padraig Hampsey near the end of the first half when Donegal’s Ryan McHugh pounced to intercept the short pass and fed the ball to Michael Murphy who crashed the ball into the net.

The score left Tyrone trailing 1-6 to 0-5 and facing a potential exit from the All-Ireland SFC.

Goal for Donegal. Michael Murphy with an emphatic finish. pic.twitter.com/AgUyF0BGWj

— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 5, 2018

But Mickey Harte’s charges rallied in the second half to clinch the win and set-up an All-Ireland semi-final against Monaghan, with Morgan pointing them to victory in Ballybofey with a well struck free.

“When the mix up near the end of the first half between Morgan and Hampsey happened, you could sense the Tyrone fans sink,” says three-time All-Ireland winner Mulligan, who is a Paddy Power GAA ambassador and columnist with Paddy Power News.

“Personally, I didn’t think the kick was on, and whether Hampsey called it or not, he didn’t attack the ball. He was static. The kick out wasn’t the best in that it just dropped awkwardly in front of him, meaning he had to bend his back, so that gave an advantage to McHugh to steal in and rob the Tyrone defender.

I’ve slated Morgan in the past, but what he did in the second half took some balls and you have to give him credit.

“Niall wouldn’t have had the best of times around Ballybofey in recent years, and with the game still in the balance and [Lee] Brennan on kicking scores it would have been easy to shy away from the kick and stay in goals.

“But he showed serious leadership and calmness to put himself forward and stroke it high over the bar which must have been some feeling and relief. The smile on his face as he ran back to his goal after what was a magic kick was priceless.”

Monaghan accounted for Tyrone in the Ulster SFC earlier this summer but Tyrone are deemed to have the psychological advantage, having defeated Monaghan twice in Croke Park in the 2013 and 2015 All-Ireland quarter-finals.

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Mulligan accepts that Monaghan have picked up considerable momentum throughout the Super 8s competition, and believes they have the ‘best forward in the country’ in Conor McManus.

But he doesn’t think Malachy O’Rourke’s side will be able to defeat Tyrone a second time in this championship campaign.

Conor McManus.

Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“Now they’re [Monaghan] in the semi so they have that last 8 monkey off their back. They’ll be relishing taking on Tyrone, and they know what they’re about. Tyrone will be cautious but very confident at the same time. It’s going to be a hell of a game.

“I really fancy Tyrone and think they’d be a great bet to win by -4. I don’t think Monaghan have capability to beat Tyrone twice in the same calendar year, it’s just a massive, massive ask.

“Mickey Harte is a shrewd manager. He hates getting beat. He will relish the chance to right the wrongs from Tyrone’s Ulster Championship encounter with Monaghan, and he’ll have learned so much from that game.

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“This game will boil down to which manager will learn the most from their previous encounter and no manager takes more out of these games than Harte. Trust me on that.

“We saw against Donegal that he has an amazing bench to come on and he’ll have them raring to go for this game.”

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