Demand for places will keep Tyrone players on their toes
Skipper Brian Dooher believes that the current fierce level of competition for starting places in the side is proving the catalyst for Tyrone’s convincing run of performances.
Those who earlier in the year decried what they felt was a lack of hunger and ambition on the part of the Red Hands have been forced to amend their views now that the team have glided into the All Ireland football quarter-finals.
Dooher is in no doubt as to what he believes has been the biggest spur in getting the side to this stage of the competition.
“It is actually the players who are not starting games at the moment who are having a big influence on the performances of the team,” reasons the 34-year-old veterinary surgeon.
“Boys have been coming off the bench and doing well for us and there are another five or 10 players there who justifiably feel they are worth starting places.
“But Mickey Harte can only choose 15 on his team sheet, although every one of us who is lucky enough to get in knows that the pressure to hold your place is greater than ever.”
Yet although the pundits have reassessed their views on Tyrone’s chances of going the full distance once again and reclaiming the Sam Maguire Cup, Dooher prefers to adhere to his traditional cautionary stance.
“While we are very happy to have collected another Ulster title — Tyrone have not too many of them after all — we know that we could get a kick up the backside the next day we go out,” insists the Clan na gael clubman.
“We still feel we have work to do.”
But the cohesion, fluency and spirit which have marked Tyrone’s championship progress to date suggest that there could be even better days ahead.
Even Dooher is unwilling to argue against this.
“The nucleus of this Tyrone side has been playing together for about 10 years and there is a family feel to things,” said Dooher.
“We all know each other in the same way that we know our own club colleagues.
“This certainly stands to us and encourages us to play for each other.
“We have had injuries this year, but things are coming together better now.
“Hopefully we will be able to build on our progress in Ulster in the All Ireland quarter-final.”
- The Central Competitions Control Committee has confirmed the venues and times for Saturday's four All Ireland Football Championship fourth round qualifier ties: Kildare v Monaghan (Croke Park 3.00); Dublin v Louth (Croke Park 5.00); Limerick v Cork (Pairc na nGael, Limerick 7.00) and Sligo v Cavan (Kingspan Breffni Park, Cavan 7.00).
The winners will form one side of the draw for the All Ireland quarter-finals, scheduled to be played over the course of the July 31/August 1 weekend.