Monaghan fought back from a five point halftime deficit to defeat Tyrone today in Omagh to win 2-17 to 1-18. It was a game of immense quality, especially in the second half when Monaghan raised their intensity levels and went for it.
For their part, Tyrone contributed massively to the spectacle and Dooher and Logan will be happy to see their team continue to develop after their dreadful start to the League. No team will want Tyrone in their round robin group.
The game was also fascinating within the context of the new Championship structure.
While the result means Vinnie Corry's men will do battle with Derry in an Ulster semifinal in two weeks time, the round robin offered a safety net for the two Division One sides. With bigger battles to come in early summer, on the surface, all that was at stake was group stage seeding.
You could even make the case that the six-week layoff would be beneficial for a county that endured a punishing league campaign and was trying to plan for (ideally) six more games come June and July should they reach an All-Ireland final.
However, Monaghan-Tyrone proved what Roscommon-Mayo suggested last week: elite teams are not taking the foot off the pedal, even in the provincial championships will have a lesser impact on the All-Ireland series.
Stephen O'Hanlon on Monaghan's motivations
There are other motivations beside silverware. Monaghan's star man on Sunday Stephen O'Hanlon shed some interesting insight on a player's perspective on the provincial championships when speaking to Orla Bannon of the BBC after the game.
I tell you what. It's a blessing that we're not staring down the barrel of five or six weeks conditioning with David Drake. I think that was as much of a motivation as anything, that we have a game in two weeks. We laughed about that in the build-up to the game.
David Drake joined Monaghan as strength and conditioning coach when Vinny Corry took over as Monaghan coach last year. Drake excelled in rugby with Ulster and Worcester before taking the role in the Monaghan backroom team. He's clearly made an instant impact. Monaghan's fitness in the second half of games stood to them again today.
The comments from O'Hanlon - who scored a brilliant goal today - prove that age-old adage: players just want to play games.
What a second half in Omagh! Beggan pulling the strings. O'Hanlon creating the space.
Ulster football, baby!pic.twitter.com/2fijpokjW2
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) April 16, 2023
The allure of a provincial title has dulled but these games matter because they're a stepping stone to another game.
Mayo hit the ground running from the first round of the League. They brought silverware home from Croke Park but defeat into Roscommon last week sends them into a kind of limbo. Tyrone now find themselves in the same boat.
Six weeks to train, plot, recover and prepare. It's a tricky thing to right. Probably better to stick with what you know, and have that next day out coming down the tracks.