Paul Grimley last night paid tribute to the way Tyrone’s All Ireland winning side has evolved under Mickey Harte.
As Armagh’s highly respected assistant manager, Grimley saw Tyrone close-up and personal in 2003 and 2005.
Defeat in both the 2003 All Ireland decider and the 2005 semi-final was a bitter pill to swallow, but it doesn’t diminish his admiration for the Tyrone boss.
“If you look closely at the way Tyrone play there’s no doubt they have changed dramatically,” said Grimley.
“They have really evolved and changed their tactics.
“They have this concept which is very unique in that, when they attack, they go forward in numbers and they also defend in numbers when the situation demands.
“Someone like Ryan McMenamin can charge up the field and score a point. Conor Gormley can come from full back and score a goal as he did against Armagh in the Ulster championshp.
“Four or five years ago that would have been unheard of, but Mickey Harte has been prepared to move on and that’s why he’s been such a successful manager.”
After losing to Cork in last season’s All Ireland quarter final Kildare pledged to be back in 2009.
Significantly, they backed up words with action and were within a whisker of being promoted from Division Two of the league.
One of their prime objectives was to improve both their scoring and their consistency which they have achieved.
Losing to Dublin in the Leinster final was a savage blow, but Grimley maintains the Lilywhites have absorbed a harsh lesson.
“We gave them some soft early scores as well as being guilty of some schooolboy errors.
“But our boys battled back and showed great spirit. Granted, we had numerical advantage in the second half, but sometimes it isn’t as big a plus as people imagine.”
Grimely is candidly honest as he analyses a Kildare team that will bring huge support to Croke Park.
“We’ve worked our socks off in training and the emphasis has been very much on reducing the goals we’ve conceded.
“We should have learned from last season in Croke Park when we conceded three goals and more recently we conceded a bad one against Offaly in the opening round of the championship.
“It seems we still have a bit of work to do for we conceded two against Dublin in the Leinster final and two more against Wicklow in the qualifiers.
Kildare’s high-scoring attack can cause Tyrone problems, but an unconvincing full back line has to be a major concern.