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Dooher’s not finished his glory quest

Brian Dooher continues to defy the passing years with the same enthusiasm that marked his early days in the Tyrone colours.

Twice he has lifted the Sam Maguire aloft in Croke Park on All Ireland final day and his hunger and appetite would shame men half his age.

He makes light of his seemingly constant battle with injuries — injuries that seemed destined to end his career prematurely.

Dooher will be 35 next birthday and as he focuses on tonight’s Ulster senior football championship semi-final against Down in Casement Park there’s no disguising his enthusiasm.

“I’m fortunate to be part of a great bunch of lads and there’s nothing more I enjoy than playing with them. Once the enjoyment disappears then I’ll know it’s time to hang up the boots for good.”

Earlier in the year Dooher fought a long and difficult few months with injuries that would have tested the resolve of a lesser individual.

Many doubted that they would ever again see him pull on a Tyrone jersey, but he defied the doubters when starting against Antrim in the opening round of the Ulster championship.

“I’ve one game but I’ve still some way to go yet. The reality is that we’ve all a bit to go, but hopefully we can raise our game against Down,” added Dooher.

“There were times in my recuperation that I had doubts about playing county football again.

“But we’re very fortunate in that we’ve an excellent medical team here in Tyrone. They have been especially good to me and without them I wouldn’t now be getting ready to face Down at Casement Park.”

Mickey Harte’s depleted squad didn’t enjoy the best of league campaigns and eventually finished up being relegated.

It must have made painful viewing for the Tyrone captain and understandably he prefers to draw a line in the sand and move on.

Now he’s under no illusion of the task that lies ahead.

“We know we’ll have our work cut out,” he said. “They are going well and they look like they mean business.

“They beat us in a championship replay in 2008 and it was very much a case of being beaten by a better team on the day.”

The fact Mickey Harte’s men bounced back in some style through the All Ireland qualifiers to win a third All Ireland was a massive achievement.

Some critics have been very vociferous in analysing Down’s defence and against Donegal they shipped two sloppy goals.

But Dooher maintains that Down’s defence played well against Donegal despite conceding an early goal.

“Apart from that they didn’t concede too much and it was the same during the league,” he said.

“I’m convinced a lot of talk about their defence is just hearsay and paper talk.”

Typically the Clan na Gael clubman is quick to acknowledge the contribution of a new generation of Tyrone footballers.

“Several young boys have come into the panel and freshened things up,” he added. “Players the calibre of Peter Harte, Kyle Coney and Ronan McNabb certainly don’t look out of place.”

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