All-Ireland Championship: Dooher targeting Tyrone treble
Tyrone skipper Brian Dooher lifted the Sam Maguire Cup in 2005 and 2008. Not surprisingly he relishes the prospect of making it a triple All-Ireland coup.
Yet the 35-year-old Clan na gael club dynamo won’t be in the Tyrone starting line-up against Dublin tonight.
Dooher will join several other old hands on the bench, but they could still have a part to play in taking the Red Hands into a semi-final meeting with Donegal.
In recent championship matches, most notably in last weekend’s quarter-final ties, substitutes have played crucial roles in bringing teams further down the line towards possible All-Ireland glory.
Tonight will be no different. While Dooher will join Enda McGinley and others on the bench, some of Dublin’s most experienced players including ex-skipper David Henry and Barry Cahill will await the call to arms from the dug-out.
With most matches now taking closer to 80 minutes as opposed to 70 to complete and extra-time very much a possibility, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte and his Dublin counterpart are acutely aware that the arrival of fresh legs from their respective benches could have an influence on proceedings.
Dooher, Justin McMahon, McGinley and Owen Mulligan were among the Tyrone subs deployed against Roscommon last weekend and Dooher emphasises that it’s what happens in the last half-hour of play which can prove absolutely crucial.
“This is another major step up for us,” said Dooher. “We're in the last eight now which is the business end of the season. The matches go down to the wire and it’s important that every team has adequate resources on the bench.”
He believes that a repetition of Tyrone’s first-half performance against Roscommon will see them exit the championship tonight.
“The game will be over by half-time if we produce that display again and that's not me blowing hot air to write ourselves off and talk up Dublin. They are a really good side,” said Dooher.
This is the fourth time in seven years that Tyrone and Dublin have crossed swords at the quarter-final stage and ironically each time the side who came through the Qualifiers came out on top.
Form therefore means nothing when these two clash and Dooher feels it will be all down to the side that clicks tonight.
“Last year we were producing the good performances coming in and we all know what happened, but in a quarter-final anything can happen,” he said.
“Whoever puts in the performance will come through. If everybody does their best and everybody works hard enough then we won't be far away.”
Dublin boss Pat Gilroy has included Eoghan O’Gara in his attack alongside Diarmuid Connolly while Ross O’Carroll is at full-back with Eamon Fennell and Denis Bastick manning the midfield.
It’s in the middle third where the Red Hands hope to impose themselves through Sean Cavanagh and Kevin Hughes, who will be helped by Peter Harte and Colm Kavanagh.
A decent supply of possession here will surely enhance Tyrone’s chances of winning, but only if they avoid the wastefulness that marked their defeat to the Dubs last year when they shot 17 wides.
Tyrone: P McConnell; M Swift, Joe McMahon, Justin McMahon; S O’Neill, C Gormley, P Jordan; S Cavanagh, K Hughes; C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte; M Penrose, M Donnelly, O Mulligan.
Dublin: S Cluxton; M Fitzsimmons, R O’Carroll, C O’Sullivan; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Noland; D Bastick, E Fennell; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen; E O’Gara, D Connolly, B Brogan.
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).