Adrian Logan: There’s no place like Tyrone for believing
The dream final is on. After yesterday’s thrilling All-Ireland semi-final, it’s Tyrone against Kerry in Croke Park in three weeks time.
Back in May this was a Tyrone team who had huge question marks over their heads. No full-back. No midfield. And their marquee forward Stephen O’Neill had decided to take a long summer holiday.
Beaten in Newry by Down, only the faithful few gave Tyrone any chance of having an impact in this year’s run to the All-Ireland. Yesterday in front of 65,000 fans they gave their answer with a workmanlike performance against a highly rated Wexford side.
Leading 14 points to six at the break it was champagne football before Wexford added their own bit of fizz with a cracking goal from Kieron Lyng midway through the half.
It was yet another test for Mickey Harte’s side and they responded in style.
For a team lacking firepower to hit 23 points in an All-Ireland semi-final was a remarkable performance.
Against Dublin in the quarter-finals, Brian Dooher was the key man but this weekend it was the unsung heroes like Justin McMahon and Phillip Jordan who led the way.
Add in the brilliance of Sean Cavanagh and the determination of Ryan McMenamin then you have a team who have real All-Ireland credentials.
On the sideline Mickey Hart displayed total calmness as his side played some sparkling football against a determined and gallant Wexford team. Tyrone and Harte will be happy that they hit 23 points to reach the decider but he will be concerned that his team conceded a goal and 14 points.
That will be the subject of much debate between now and the glamour final in three weeks time.
Hard to believe that only a few months ago some Tyrone fans questioned the ability and effort of this team and their manager. Hard to believe that only a few short months ago some of them had called for Mickey Harte to go. Sport is just so fickle.
The real believers in this Tyrone team have seen them battle all season and now they’re just 70 minutes away from what would be a glorious climax to a remarkable season.
Kerry will go into the final as favourites seeking their third All-Ireland crown in a row and that is quite a target for this hungry and talented Tyrone team.
It has to be one of the most eagerly awaited finals in decades and revives memories of the Kerry-Dublin clashes back in the 70s.
In many ways it’s a game between Kerry’s individual genius and Tyrone’s collective will.
On that score the Ulster side has never let any of its fans down and that collective will could be enough in the end to deliver Tyrone’s third All-Ireland crown in six years.
The scramble for tickets will begin today and Tyrone fans will be delighted that their Minors are also in the All-Ireland final.
It’s the first time since 1956 that the same county has delivered Minor and Senior finalists on All-Ireland day and that is a huge achievement for all involved in Gaelic Games in the county.
Don’t rule out a Tyrone double later in the month.