Tyrone can be optimistic if older heads stay next year
I find it slightly amusing that people were surprised at the strength of Tyrone's challenge last Sunday.
The over-arching narrative is that of a team transformed since the start of the year. But during the National League, Tyrone competed strongly against the very best teams in Dublin, Mayo and Cork. Strangely, it was the Ulster sides of Derry, Monaghan and Donegal who they struggled against, with two of those games at home.
The performance against Donegal in the Championship was very good. There was tenacity and real drive about the Tyrone team. The result was crystallised by the quality of free-kicks; Michael Murphy scored Donegal's while Tyrone missed theirs.
They experienced a lull for the first couple of games in the qualifiers. Players had gone back to their clubs and some decided to commit for the rest of the season with the club. Hence, it took a few games in the qualifiers to get going again.
But since that, they have been a team moving in the right direction again and they have now given hope, moving forward for 2016.
The invaluable experience garnered by the likes of Mark Bradley, Ruairi Brennan, Conor Meyler, Cathal McShane, Pádraig McNulty, Tiernan McCann will stand to them. A league campaign away from the harsh scrutiny of Division One might not do any harm.
The team now will hope that the likes of Sean Cavanagh and Joe McMahon will stay on. It's imperative a few older heads remain and Tyrone can look forward to 2016 with optimism.
As for the wisest head, well, Mickey Harte's appetite has not diminished. The manner of the performances in this year's Championship, along with the barrage of criticism that has come our way, has energised him.
He has already spoken to the players and I expect preparations for next season to be already under way.