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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Revenge on the menu in semi-final for revitalised Tyrone

David Jennings fancies Mickey Harte's men to see off Monaghan

Tyrone's Conor Meyler with Owen Coyle of Monaghan
1 of 1

Monaghan v Tyrone
All-Ireland semi-final
Croke Park, 3.30pm Sunday

Monaghan are surely not good enough to topple Tyrone twice in one year, so get on Mickey Harte's revitalised side to win both halves of the second All-Ireland semi-final. 

Don't read too much into the Ulster showdown between the teams which Monaghan won 1-18 to 1-16 as Tyrone are a very different side now. 

Tyrone were lethargic and laboured that day. They were too casual in possession and gave Monaghan time to retreat after turnovers. The Farney Army surely won't be afforded such luxuries the second time around.

We saw last Sunday how devastating Tyrone are when they turn over possession. The transition from defence to attack has become considerably faster and they appear to have perfected their system through the qualifiers and Super 8s. 

Tyrone's three best performances of 2018 have been their last three. They scored 4-24 in their rout of Roscommon, would have got within a point of Dublin had they not failed to covert a straightforward injury-time free in Omagh and had seven points to spare over Donegal last weekend. 

Tyrone are getting better and their training has been geared towards peaking for the games that matter most. Physically they are the closest thing to Dublin. They are super fit and will not wilt when it comes down to the final quarter. 

During his lengthy stint as Tyrone manager, Harte has suffered defeat only once in a replay and that was in the 2005 Ulster final against Armagh. Tyrone went on to beat Armagh in the All-Ireland semi-final before winning the championship.

Harte is a methodical thinker who would have learned so much about Monaghan from their meeting earlier in the year. He will know that Conor McManus is their chief threat and Karl O'Connell's surging runs from deep can hurt teams. He will be well aware of the damage Rory Beggan's kick-outs can do. 

Peter Harte has developed into a star for Tyrone

That's not to say Monaghan have not evolved. They were superb in all three of their Super 8 outings and deserved to bag maximum points. It was only a late David Clifford goal which sealed a smash- and-grab raid for Kerry. 

But, just as it would be foolish to read too much into their Tyrone triumph, it would also be dangerous to take their landslide success over Galway literally. 

Galway were sloppy and off the pace. They were already assured of an All-Ireland semi-final spot and it looked as though that safety net was in the back of their minds. Monaghan took full advantage and did what they had to do. They were much the better side. 

Monaghan will have the best player on the pitch in McManus but Tyrone are a more balanced side and can call on a greater spread of scorers. 

This should not be a high-scoring game, especially if the Croke Park surface is slippery after morning rain, so expect the first half to be cagey. If you offered either manager eight first-half points now they would probably take it, so the advice is to back 17 or fewer first-half points. 

Monaghan have failed to find the net against Fermanagh, Laois, Kildare and Galway this season and managed to score only one goal against Leitrim in the qualifiers. 

Their style of play is more about runners looping off the shoulder and shooting from around the D than getting in behind defences and creating goal chances. 

It is hard to refuse having a nibble on Monaghan scoring no goals. 

Victory looks there for the taking for Tyrone and they should not fluff their lines.

Tyrone to win both halves
2pts 5-2 bet365, BoyleSports, Paddy Power
Under 17.5 first-half points
2pts 8-11 Paddy Power
No Monaghan goal
2pts 13-8 BoyleSports

Already advised (May 11)
Tyrone to win All-Ireland
1pt each-way 12-1 BoyleSports
Tyrone to reach All-Ireland semi-final
3pts 11-10 Paddy Power

Morgan may struggle to match brilliant Beggan

It might sound strange to be tipping a goalkeeper not to score but there is some odds-against available about Tyrone netminder Niall Morgan failing to get on the scoresheet and that looks terrific value. 

At the other end, Monaghan will call up Rory Beggan to take every free outside the 30-metre mark but Tyrone are more hesistant to call upon Morgan, despite the fact that he nailed a crucial late free in their recent success over Donegal. 

Tyrone scored 4-24 against Roscommon in the first round of the Super 8s but Morgan contributed nothing to that total and he didn't score against Dublin either. 

Although Mickey Harte has not named Lee Brennan in the starting 15 it would come as little surprise to see him play, such was the impression he made after being introduced against Donegal. 

He quickly fired over a free and was not afraid of taking over the free-taking duties. If he starts, he could take the majority of frees and Morgan will have fewer opportunities to get his name on the scoresheet.

He is not as accurate as Beggan from the deck, so 6-5 about no Morgan scores is worth snapping up.

N Morgan not to score
2pts 6-5 BoyleSports

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This will not be high-scoring, especially if the Croke Park surface is slippery after morning rain, so expect the first half to be very cagey
E.W. Terms
Sky bet