Little time for Tyrone to rest on his laurels as new campaign looms

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It almost seems quaint now, after everything that’s happened, after the life that’s gone on for the next seven months, to point out that the last time Tyrone played a league game, Kerry put six goals ahead of them.

Point it out to Feargal Logan and he’s almost amazed at the realization. Not that he forgot it or anything. Just that it seems almost entirely from another time.

Which, in a very real sense, it is. Not only were Tyrone not All-Ireland champions at the time, but they were more or less dismissed as contenders at the back.

Along the Assault Course of Impossibilities that separated them from the steps of the Hogan Stand, it was a vertical wall with no discernible rope to pull yourself up with. Yet they are there. A million crazy things and they’re the ones starting 2022 as the kingpins.

“Well, another day like this wouldn’t be too good,” Logan says now. “It was a real black mark. Was it weird? Did we deserve it? Did we ask for it? It’s hard to know. But at the end of the day, we can’t afford it this time The reality is that there isn’t much between all the teams in the Premier League, as will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

“Hopefully we won’t be on the wrong end of another lesson like this over the next few weeks. It was our last day playing league football, that’s right. Hopefully we get some redemption for that later in the year.

That’s what they did. And it wouldn’t even really be relevant to talk about it here, except for the fact that the screaming scoreline that day seems to have given the impression abroad that, under Logan and Brian Dooher, Tyrone will be dilettantes of the league.

Even this week, Newstalk analyst James O’Donoghue was advancing precisely that theory, saying that Dooher in particular had no time for the league and adamant that Tyrone even did a workout on morning of the match last June. Logan doesn’t have a bar of it.

“I can assure you that in no way did we go to Killarney as a waste of time,” he says. “Anyone who went to the gym or went for a run, they sure weren’t training on game day. The night before we got off and jumped off the bus and threw an American football in a park just to relax after a long journey.

“But anyone who thinks Tyrone went to Killarney for any reason other than to play in a National League final is so far from the truth. We went there to beat Kerry, that was the main thing. For me and Brian, it was our first national championship semi-final – do people really think we were training that morning? This is madness. No, we went there to try to beat Kerry, to try to build our own confidence and maybe, if the results worked out, to get into a league final.

League record

“Kerry tore us to shreds in the first 15 minutes. They had done it all over the league – they did it in Galway as well as we did. They went for bases and piled them up. We have just received a lesson, nothing more sinister than that. The talent they have, they are quite capable of doing that.

Old news now, of course. All is. Tyrone’s job now is to bathe in amnesia, to convince himself that they are not champions of all Ireland. If the recent past is any guide, it’s going to be a struggle. The league record of teams in the last decade that have just won an All-Ireland record is not promising.

Dublin finished fifth in 2012. Donegal were relegated in 2013. Kerry finished a place above the trapdoor in 2015. When you close a long gap, it’s not certain you’ll come back with the required drive in your step into the new year. Worst of all, you won’t know until you know.

The Killarney scoreboard tells the story of an unforgettable day for Tyrone after Kerry hammered them in the Division One semi-final at Fitzgerald Stadium in June. Photography: James Crombie/Inpho

“It’s easy to speak frankly,” Logan concedes. “It’s easy to say last year is over and forget about last year and look forward to this year. But the challenge is to live it. It’s about training and games and just your general way of life like you’ve never won it. You must try to return to this scenario. This is the challenge for everyone.

“I will know in a few months whether or not we were able to do it. I guess in all honesty we have very ambitious players in Tyrone. They set very high standards and are expected to push things forward, as they have been doing for several years now. Young players watch them and how they work and they want to win football games. This is the key to progress. »

They were in Orlando for most of the first half of the year. They were quick to get off the plane when a scratch team traveled to Breffni Park and found themselves on the wrong end of a beating from Cavan. They were a more formidable proposition when they played Armagh four days later and started bringing home a few of their heroes from September, but they still ended up losing.

Logan knows where they stand but will be happier on Sunday night regardless of the outcome between his team and Monaghan at Healy Park. Championship games between the two counties are never anything less than a search. Close neighbors, extremely limited little reserves of lost love – if Tyrone isn’t there, they’ll know everything.

“Things are generally falling into place. We still have a few guys working their way up and rehabilitating some things. Our club season lasted a long time through the winter, so we had guys who had bangs and sprains that they were slow to fix. Those little repair jobs that need to be done out of season and need a bit of time to get it right. Week after week, we have more and more feedback.

“I was at the game on Saturday night at Omagh, the McKenna Cup game between Donegal and Monaghan. It was a good close game and everyone was ready and you can immediately see what attitude everyone brings with them. No one doesn’t want to be left behind Nobody wants to play catch-up, even this early in the year.

The beginning is all relative, this year more than ever. Tyrone is in the preliminary round in Ulster which means he will face Fermanagh in just 11 weeks from today. Each county is guaranteed nine games in 2022 – seven of them will be played over the next eight weeks. The league will be half done before we even get out of February. The days when you start the year are strictly in the past tense.

stall

“It’s worth reminding yourself of that once in a while,” says Logan. “But at the end of the day, the nature of the sport is that you focus on the day after and the day after and that takes up most of your time. Part of your vision is limited to the next goal. Visibility beyond that requires thought. wider and you don’t always have time for that.

“There is a bit of a factor this year that everything is going to be on top of everyone very quickly. But I think the fact that everyone has been so adaptable over the past two years is going to help. Everyone has gotten used to the league and the championship taking turns and I think that will really be what we still need here. We’ll just have to adapt to it and keep going.

“It’s here now and everyone is going to want to set up their stands early. There’s a lot of football to be played between now and mid-April. Everyone is on their feet and getting into it. There’s no room this year to take a few months to get in shape. It’s a 24/7 job, 12 months a year now. Everyone is ultra-competitive.

Winter is over, the daffodils are coming. In Tyrone they will remember it forever. Dark nights lit by something that was genuine and unequivocal delight. All-Ireland champions for the fourth time in their history. It’s over now but they will always keep it with them.

Cavan and Armagh put us in our place. The nature of it is you can’t linger long

“What I will remember the most is the hustle and bustle,” laughs Logan.

“We came on the road without Sam Maguire – we weren’t allowed to take the cup home because of the regulations at the time. I think it was about a month before we got the cup Even with that and even with the closures and the public health emergency, there was still a lot going on. It was good and it brought great joy to the place. But overall it was busy, busy. Good busy. Happy busy.

“Everything was really good and there was just a good feeling around the place. After all, people got to hear some good stories about Tyrone and get to know a bit more about our players and learn a bit more about where we come from. But then, over the last two weeks, we have a good lesson in where we are in other people’s minds. Cavan and Armagh put us in our place. The nature of it is that you cannot linger long.

They wouldn’t want it any other way.

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