Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Declan Bogue: Tyrone heroes will be reminded that even legends can’t be sure of a happy ending

A former Armagh player Enda McNulty was telling a story of how he was still hanging on to a place on the Armagh panel, sometime around 2009 when he was warming up along the sideline during a league game in Crossmaglen.

He was trying to stay focused, but his old team mate Tony McEntee came to him from the stand.

When he gave him his attention, McEntee was as forthright as ever; ‘Give it up Enda. It's gone. It's over.'

McNulty could not let it go. The friendship, the loyalty to each other, the dressing room, whereas Tony and John McEntee could call it quits and never look over their shoulder once.

The trouble for great GAA competitors and sportsmen is that they can't write their own ‘Rocky' ending, when they get the Cup, the girl, the perfect moment. For many, they just struggle on until their body betrays them with injury or else real life demands to be given more time.

We were thinking of this when we watched Brian McGuigan walking off the pitch in Killarney last Saturday, a man already haunted with demons.

He came back this year to a team in decline and when he was sent onto the field against Kerry, he was in a place where he hadn't been before, that far down to a side that they had took pride in regularly beating.

Frustration got the better of him, as it did Conor Gormley and Ryan McMenamin.

In his later years, the Wexford hurler Liam Dunne felt a similar pressure.

It manifested itself in his Championship seasons of 2001, '02 and '03 ending in red cards for Dunne and defeat for Wexford.

The great Tyrone players will know when the time is right to go, but it is an open secret in the county that this was the final year for at least two of them.

Liam Dunne decided to give it one more year in 2004 and got redemption with a string of brilliant performances, a Leinster Championship title and an All-Star.

Who would bet against any of the veteran Red Hand men achieving something similar in 2013?

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