AS Tyrone players slumped off into the Dublin night to drown their sorrows last Saturday, every Red Hand follower was beginning to come to terms with the sobering twelve point loss to Kerry in the All-Ireland Quarter-Final.
Burgeoning optimism as the week unfolded that the mighty Kingdom would be toppled again was punctured in no uncertain terms at Croke Park as the marauding Munster men strolled to a 2-18 to 0-12 triumph.
Understandably the squad preferred to keep their own counsel as one by one they dejectedly left their dressing room under the bowels of the Cusack Stand.
Inevitably when any Championship journey comes to a close, questions will be asked about potential player retirements, as well as the future intentions of the joint management team of Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan, having now completed their three year term at the helm.
Former All-Ireland winner Joe McMahon, a member of the backroom team, appreciates that it will be a time now for some deep thinking and reflection, with inter-county action read up until 2024.
“ That is always going to be the case after a defeat and we will have plenty of time now to do it. We will be heading straight back to club football and I’m sure that there will be no stone left unturned with the group as a whole to figure out what we could have done better.
“ I’m not sure what the future holds for everyone as a whole but whatever it might be Tyrone football will always be looking to come back and compete again.”
Subsequent to the weekend Quarter-Final action much was made of the fact that three of the four sides, beaten so comprehensivly, looked jaded in comparison to their opponents who enjoyed the luxury of a fortnight’s break having topped their groups.
McMahon admitted that it was hard in the initial period after the loss to put his finger on why Tyrone had turned in such an insipid display.
“ You are always looking for reasons for a defeat and you could say the (7-day) turnaround was one of those but looking at it from an early reflection we were very flat early on. Despite that in the first half we matched them and it was level with five minutes to go to the break but they had a very good start to the second half.
“ They found a lot of spaces in behind us and they kept chipping away at the scoreboard and the quality that they have just showed. To be honest they had more opportunities to get goals and came away without them. It is disappointing to produce a performance like that but no doubt there will be a bit of time taken now to reflect on it all.”
The roles were flipped on Saturday from some of the most iconic Tyrone vs Kerry Championship ties of the past two decades, with the Kingdom bringing all the intensity and abrasiveness, forcing the Red Hands into countless turnovers in the tackle.
Joe accepted that Tyrone looked a pale shadow of their normal selves in that regard.
“ It (intensity) wasn’t there and that is unlike Tyrone. They were getting their kick outs away and we were looking to press them but it didn’t happen. Once they were able to do that they had an outlet to get the ball into their full forward line and we all know the quality that they have there. Having said that Paudie Hampsey did well on David Clifford to hold him to just one point from play but on a whole it was just very disappointing.”
While the Canavan brothers- Darragh and Ruaiir- started in sprightly fashion, with the sides level at 0-6 apiece approaching the half-hour mark, Tyrone then endured a 28 minute scoring drought. During that same time frame Kery reeled off a goal and eight points to effectively seal the deal.
McMahon was well aware that such a stat wouldn’t get the job done against a potent Kerry side.
“The fact of the matter is that it isn’t good enough if you are expecting to compete at this level. We thought that we could have got a bit of a bounce of the Donegal game and it felt like that in the build up but it just wasn’t to be. The effort was there from the lads and you cane never fault that.
“ We have been through a lot this year with ups and down but the great lads that they are they know that and will feel that. Certainly from my own point of view I have been there in the past and its not a good place to be but the important thing is that the lads stick together like we do in Tyrone. We will look back at it and work at it and see what the future holds.”
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