Conor Gormley aims to stay in the All Ireland picture
An impressive water-colour painting of Conor Gormley adorns the wall of the spacious Carrickmore club headquarters in the heart of Tyrone — in itself, a fitting tribute to a triple All Ireland winner who has long since achieved legendary status in his own community.
Yet this 28-year-old joiner remains among the most modest and self-effacing of Ulster’s sporting heroes.
No stranger to the passion and drama of Croke Park action, his commitment is equally fierce in even the most mundane of club league games in his county.
So it’s hardly surprising that the man-of-the-match accolade which came his way following Tyrone’s total destruction of Monaghan in the recent Ulster final has already been consigned to the dark recesses of his mind.
What is very much to the fore in his thinking though is tomorrow’s All Ireland quarter-final showdown against Dublin — a match which Gormley feels will confirm if Tyrone are progressing to the extent that manager Mickey Harte would hope.
“What happened against Monaghan is now history,” insists Gormley (pictured below), who has been a fixture in the Red Hands side at centre-half-back for several years now.
“But still we must learn from that game.
“Had our goalkeeper Packie McConnell not made two mighty first-half saves we would surely have been in difficulties.
“We simply cannot afford to give Dublin chances like that,” warns Gormley.
And while he admits he was pleased to have an individual honour bestowed on him following the provincial decider, he makes it abundantly clear that the team ethic is absolutely paramount if further success is to be attained.
“What really has stood to us over the years is the fact that every player is prepared to work as hard as he can for the team,” stresses the Carrickmore man.
“It does not matter what job you are asked to do, the important thing is that you get on with it.”
And he goes on: “We have players like Joe McMahon and others in there that can play almost anywhere.
“Individual honours do not matter all that much to this side.
“What really matters is that the team wins and if it wins because everyone has played an equal part then so much the better.”
Tyrone’s hunger and desire may have been questioned earlier in the year, particularly when they suffered relegation in the National League, but Gormley emphasises that the players nonetheless remained very focused on their targets.
“It’s really all about how we perform on the day,” adds Gormley. “We have to concentrate on our own game.
“Dublin will undoubtedly be fired up but we will look to our own strengths rather than worry about them. It’s great to be going back to Croke Park because it’s a venue in which we generally tend to play well.”
Tyrone will have few changes for their match against Dublin.
In the absence of the injured Tommy McGuigan Tyrone include his older brother Brian on the ‘40’ for his first start since the 2008 All Ireland quarter-final with Sean Cavanagh switching from the ‘40’ to full forward.
Stephen O’Neill has to be content with a place on the bench for the match.
TYRONE: P McConnell, C McCarron, Justin McMahon, R McMenamin, D Harte, C Gormley, P Jordan, C Cavanagh, K Hughes, B Dooher (capt) B McGuigan, Joe McMahon, M Penrose, S Cavanagh, O Mulligan.