Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

Tyrone have the Art and soul to bounce back

Art McRory is convinced that refereeing has improved mainly because of the scrutiny of television cameras.

“There has been a recognition on Croke Park’s part that if they don’t clean up the game, parents simply won’t allow their children to play.

“If the game is physical, but played fair and square, I’ve no problems. But there’s a very thin dividing line between physicality and punching an opponent.

“If the CCCC are doing their job properly then the incident where Graham Canty appeared to jump on Enda McGinley with his two knees has to be looked at, but it won’t be.”

The former Tyrone manager wouldn’t be referee John Bannon’s biggest fan.

“He has been refereeing for 20 years and he hasn’t changed.

“How he gets big matches beats me, but I don’t blame him. I blame those for appointing him,” he said.

Art, though has a very high regard for Conor Counihan’s Cork side. Much of the credit, he maintains, must go to the manager, a modest, unassuming man, but also an astute and shrewd tactician.

“I honestly can’t see Cork being beaten. They are a super side and I can see them winning the All Ireland for the next couple of years.

“Not only have they some quality players, but also men who are natural leaders, players like Graham Canty, Anthony Lynch, Michael Shiels and Nicholas Murphy coupled with some quality forwards,” he said.

Some pundits have been quick to write off Tyrone following their eclipse by Cork.

But McRory takes a different line.

“I’ve no doubt Tyrone will be back. There’s two men in particular who will do very well once they come into the side — Sean O’Neill and Aidan Cassidy — while it’s only a matter of time before Niall McKenna and Matthew Donnelly join them.”

Tyrone’s double All Ireland winning captain Brian Dooher hasn’t been short of advice since the Cork match.

Art McRory, a big fan of the Tyrone skipper, offers a more considered view.

“I would hope for his own sake that he takes a step back. It’s a decision he has to make.

“He’s obviously been labouring with injuries for the past two seasons.

“How far can he push himself? I would be afraid he might push himself too hard.”

The man who led Tyrone to their first All Ireland finals in 1986 and 1995 agrees Dooher’s departure, when it comes, will leave a void.

“He’s very much the heartbeat of the whole operation and I would hope that Mickey Harte would keep him in some managerial capacity.”

There aren’t any players apart from Dooher and Collie Holmes at an age when retirement is an obvious option.

McRory is also concerned about the recurrent injury problems of former Footballer of the Year Stephen O’Neill.

“He’s very subdued and carrying an injury. It’s a major problem, the tendon below the knee cap. Owen Hargreaves at Manchester United has it and can’t shake it off.”

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