Paul Earley Earley questions Tyrone sweeper system after loss to Mayo

Updated: Monday, 26 Aug 2013 11:28 | Comments

Tyrone were beaten by six points at Croke Park
Tyrone were beaten by six points at Croke Park

International Rules manager Paul Earley thinks Tyrone need to change their style of play next year after exiting the Championship at the semi-final stage at the hands of Mayo.

The Red Hand missed out on the final once again as they were outscored by a more fluent and skilful Mayo side, despite an encouraging start to the game.

Earley has pointed to the defeats that have knocked Tyrone out of the All-Ireland series over the last number of years as examples of their shortcomings.

He told RTÉ Sport: "Tyrone were incredibly unfortunate to lose three of their top five players, their centre half-back, forward and sweeper. A few debateable decisions also went against them.

"But if you look at the history they have been beaten heavily by Mayo this year, heavily by Kerry last year and heavily by Dublin the previous year by a big margin.

"They have a style of play that has been the same for the last 10 years that has served them very, very well.

"It is that sweeper system and a high intensity game. I'm just wondering is it time to consider changing their style a little bit.

"Three of the remaining teams in the Championship don't employ a sweeper system. They go man-to-man and it is working very successfully for them.

"Tyrone have excellent footballers. They are expected to play a very high intensity game all the time with what looks like to me a greater emphasis on defence than attack. They rarely kick to the contest in the forward line.

"They always try to retain possession and are creating less goal chances than when they were winning titles. Perhaps it is just time to look at changing their style a little and that may serve them better in the future."

Roscommon native Earley, a former All Star and member of the Football Review Committee, thinks Mayo have a golden chance to end a 62-year wait for an All-Ireland title against either Dublin or Kerry.

He concluded: "There is no doubt about it in my view. I don't buy into the view that Mayo have choked in previous finals.

"In the last decade they have come up against teams that were better than them, including last year where I felt Donegal were marginally a better team overall and results in each of the finals bore that out.

"I do think this year it is different. Individually they have terrific players with a high level of skill. They are playing with pace and as a team they are as good if not better than any of the teams left.

"For that reason I think this is their best opportunity and they will be really difficult to beat in the final."

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