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Kerry must learn from Tyrone's 1986 lesson: Lynch


Flashback: Mikey Sheehy, supported by Ger Power of Kerry, is chased by Tyrone’s Harry McClure, Joe Mallin and John Lynch in the 1986 All-Ireland Final
Flashback: Mikey Sheehy, supported by Ger Power of Kerry, is chased by Tyrone’s Harry McClure, Joe Mallin and John Lynch in the 1986 All-Ireland Final
John Lynch
John Campbell

By John Campbell

A total of 33 years have elapsed since John Lynch lined out for Tyrone against Kerry in an All-Ireland final, yet the events of that day are clearly videoed in the memory bank of the Castlederg man.

Lynch recalls that the Red Hands had prepared for what they thought was every possible eventuality - apart from finding themselves half a dozen points to the good with the game still in its infancy.

"We couldn't believe it," said teak-tough former defender Lynch.

"There we were sailing along, unable to believe our luck, but because we hadn't bargained for what took place, we were unable to manage the game, as they say these days, and of course Kerry, with the traditional cuteness, overtook us while we were still a bit mesmerised."

Fast forward to today and Lynch boldly raps out a warning to Peter Keane's reconstructed Kingdom side, who will bid to achieve what many believe is the impossible and thwart Dublin in their quest to make it a historic five All-Ireland titles on the trot.

"Sure, Kerry are the underdogs, but I hope they don't suffer the same fate as we did in 1986," stated Lynch.

"I know people are saying this current side is inexperienced, but if they can steal a march on Dublin, I just hope for their sake that they can push on and make the most of it.

"Art McRory was our manager back in the day and he was as diligent and committed as they come, and he had planned for everything except that we would get a decent lead. Kerry must be ready to grab their chance on Sunday should it come their way."

And the straight-talking Lynch is convinced that if the Kingdom manage to steal over the finishing line through a point that goes in off the upright in the 76th minute, it will still represent one of their sweetest ever All-Ireland successes.

"I know there is always plenty of talk at this time of the year about the 37 All-Ireland titles that Kerry have won to date, and fair play to them, but let's be sensible here," asserted Lynch.

"When you think about it, in winning the vast majority of those titles, I would contend that Kerry played no more than three meaningful matches - a Munster final, All-Ireland semi-final and final.

"Winning an All-Ireland title these days, and especially since the launch of the Super8s, is now a different ball game altogether. Look at Tyrone, they slogged their guts out in 10 Championship matches this year and have nothing to show for it.

"Sure it's well known in the past that Kerry supporters did not leave their armchairs until their team was safely in the All-Ireland final.

"The fact that they have not won an All-Ireland crown since 2014 and have the opportunity of ruining Dublin's bid to land five titles on the trot gives them a massive incentive going into Sunday's game."

Lynch candidly admits that playing against Kerry proved a chastening experience for the Tyrone side of the '80s.

"Obviously Kerry had been painted as the aristocrats of the game, the team who were beyond reproach in any way," stated Lynch.

"But I can tell you this, it was a shock to us what we encountered. We were not exactly naive but we were not prepared for the dark arts that came our way.

"To be fair to Art McRory, he had tried to mark our card and put us wise but, to be honest, I don't think we really expected to come up against what we did meet. At the end of the day, you would have to say it was win at all costs really, no matter how you looked at it.

"I think other Ulster sides experienced this as well."

Tipperary's stunning 14-point win over fancied Kilkenny in the recent All-Ireland hurling final may have prompted people to view the football decider from a different perspective, but Lynch accepts that Dublin's spectacular Championship odyssey has brought a whole new dimension to Gaelic football.

"Let's be honest, there are myths attached to the GAA and one of these is that in the so-called olden days the football was great and all that," rapped Lynch.

"But when you look at the way the game has evolved and the application of sports science that has made it such a wonderful spectacle for the most part, you just have to admire what the players are doing.

"The notion that football and hurling were brilliant in the past does not quite hold water in my book.

"I think the current top teams are providing us with spectacular entertainment and I feel we will get another helping of this on Sunday. I for one can't wait to see the game."

Belfast Telegraph


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