Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Tyrone captain Dooher down but not out

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and captain Brian Dooher
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte and captain Brian Dooher after the 2009 Ulster final

Tyrone's double All Ireland winning captain Brian Dooher won’t be rushed into deciding on his future plans.

He has defied injury for the past two seasons, but he will be 34 next birthday so raising questions over his future in the Tyrone colours.

But the Clan na Gael stalwart is unlikely to make any announcement this side of Christmas.

His contribution to Tyrone football has been immense and as captain he always led from the front.

His display in last season’s All Ireland win over Kerry was immense and who will ever forget the two brilliant points he landed, one in each half, so keeping his colleagues on course for a third All Ireland.

But just as his former colleague Peter Canavan discovered, there’s only so much the body can take.

Canavan, now a highly respected TV and newspaper pundit, is convinced there’s another All Ireland in this squad of players and he certainly doesn’t expect many retirements.

“When you look at the core of that side you are looking at the likes of Stephen O’Neill, Conor Gormley, Enda McGinley and Ryan McMenamin, players with an average age of 28.

“That team still has so much to offer. I’ve no doubt there will be a massive response from them come next year.

“The only doubts would be over both Brian Dooher and Collie Holmes who are a few years older than the rest.

“Both have overcome serious injuries. Dooher in particular has continued to play despite fairly major injuries that would have deterred a lesser man.

“But he will now have time to reflect and ask himself if he’s prepared to put his body through another year,” Canavan said.

Despite the events of last Sunday, Peter the Great remains bullishly optimistic about the way ahead.

He’s convinced a number of players from last season’s Tyrone All Ireland minor winning side will emerge as the stars of tomorrow.

Players the calibre of Niall McKenna, Kyle Cooney and Matthew Donnelly all get his seal of approval.

“We’re in the fortunate position of having some good young players coming through from successful under age sides, leaving the manager with the option of bringing in new blood.

“If Sean Cavanagh had been able to start against Cork it would have made a huge difference, but it’s questionable if it would have made the difference between winning and losing.

“On the day Cork appeared to be more fired up than Tyrone.

“They were the side with a ferocious appetite while Tyrone didn’t have the same buzz. They actually looked stale by comparison.

“Tyrone still had time to come back after conceding the early goal, but that score gave Cork a massive boost in terms of self belief.”

He added: “Much has been said about the referee. Suffice to say he didn’t have one of his better games.”

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