HomeFootballNiall Morgan says Tyrone must stop conceding goals

Niall Morgan says Tyrone must stop conceding goals


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NIALL Morgan says Tyrone must stop leaking goals if they are to have any chance of defeating Donegal in Sunday’s Ulster semi-final.

They have conceded eight in their last two games, including three to Cavan last weekend, and go to Celtic Park with defensive issues to sort out in their clash with a side that stunned provincial champions Derry with three sensational strikes.

And the Kingspan Breffni malfunction wasn’t a one-off for a Red Hand side that kept just one clean sheet during the League.

“We have been shipping too many goals, I think we had only one clean sheet in the League, and losing three like we did against Cavan won’t be good enough against Donegal,” said former Allstar goalkeeper Morgan.

“We need to work at that this week in training and try and close that down because we don’t score a lot of goals ourselves, and as you saw against Cavan, goals are massive momentum-changers in games.”

Jim McGuinness had been targeting the clash with Derry from the moment the draw for the 2024 Ulster Championship was made last October.

Meticulous attention to detail went into the tactical masterclass that saw his side stun the Oak Leafers at Celtic Park.

But the Donegal boss has just a week to re-set and tailor a new plan for this weekend’s clash.

“Donegal knew that the gameplan that they had to beat Derry was going to beat any side in Division two so they got the opportunity to work on that progressively throughout the league whereas we had to go game by game to see what we could do to try and match up to the top teams.

“It is going to be an interesting game and there will probably be more learning in the video analysis that there will be on the pitch this week.”

Tyrone’s youngsters, nine of whom made their championship debuts in the dramatic extra-time win over Cavan, are learning on the job, and face another big test against a seasoned opponent.

It’s been a season of enforced transition for the 2021 All-Ireland champions, with a rash of injuries and retirements removing many household names from the narrative.

“Players like Ciaran Daly, Seanie O’Donnell, Ben Cullen coming on and scoring a point and Joe Oguz having a massive part to play as well as well as Niall Devlin, who has been a massive leader this year as well.

“There is a nice blend of the old and the new and we pulled together. It might not look like it from the outside looking in, but this team is the most together team that we have had in a long time and you probably saw that in extra time when everybody was looking to dig each other out.”

Donegal dismantled Derry in clinical and ruthless fashion last Saturday, laying on a performance that will give their players massive confidence ahead of another north-west derby at the same venue.

“The were super, and I suppose we all knew with Jim coming back that they were going to bring something different. You could have sort of sensed that they had been planning for Derry all throughout the league, they didn’t seem concerned about anything else,” Morgan said.

“They got their game plan right and they toppled them well and they will be a completely different proposition to the side that we met early in the year in the McKenna Cup and we are expecting a massive, massive battle.

“They have some unbelievable players with boys who have been there this last three or four years but this year they look like completely different animals so we know that we have a lot of homework to do this week.

“They look so fit and I suppose they look like the Donegal of old in terms of their fitness. Ryan McHugh and Brendan McCole look like different players this year and I was very impressed with McGonagle at six.

“You then have Magee and Langan in the middle and Ciaran Thompson there as well, all players who are six foot two or over and that is a big plus in that sector of the field. Up front they have firepower as well and are ruthless.

“They are just a very impressive side throughout and they have all bought into what Jim wants to do.

“He has been a massive plus coming back in for Donegal this season and come Sunday it will be up to us to try and foil them.”

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