Kerry v Tyrone: The View From The Red Hand County

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Gavin O’Connor talks to Tyrone native and Gaelic Life journalist, Ciaran Woods, about what the feeling is like in the Red Hand county in the run-up to tomorrow’s match…

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Gaelic Life journalist and Tyrone native Ciaran Woods.

So, what has been the mood been like all week up in Tyrone? 

To be the honest the mood up here has been very different to the way it’s been all season.

It’s been very lacklustre all year, there has been a lot of pessimism, but suddenly we win, Tiernan McCann gets suspended, then the suspension is dropped and everyone is heading to Dublin.

Do you think it’s because you’re playing Kerry that you have that confidence factor over us?

I think there’s that, but there’s always a great buzz around Kerry and Tyrone games. It’s probably the same for every county when they’re going in playing Kerry, you might not be able to understand it down there, or maybe you do, but there is a certain high profile to all Kerry games.

It’s been a few years since we’ve had one over you, so hopefully Sunday will be the day.

Continued below…

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Has this semi-final match-up reawakened passions for Tyrone football once more?

It certainly has, you only have to look at Twitter and Facebook. Over the last few days all the old songs are coming out again and videos of the wins in 2003, 2005 and 2008, so it has been simmering away nicely all week here.

Is the siege mentality something that Tyrone thrive on?

I can tell you the walls have been built ten foot higher this week!

There has been a longstanding thing with RTE and the southern media perception of Tyrone in general that has rallied the troops, but the proposed 8 week suspension of  Tiernan McCann, I think any GAA person would say it was a joke and never going to stick.

That has certainly created a siege mentality and I think it’s helped ticket sales double over the course of the week.

Can you understand why Tyrone have a bad reputation because of the Monaghan game?

I’m completely against diving as much as any man is – it’s something that I’m completely and utterly against – but the problem is the McCann suspension was completely unjust and unfair.

The rule is there, that feigning injury is a yellow card offence, the decision to upgrade that was wrong.

Personally I think you do what you have to do to win. Tomás Ó Sé said this week if he’d had been a bit cuter in the last ten minutes against Dublin in 2011, he’d have another All-Ireland medal in his back pocket.

It’s not something we like, but if things are tight in the final ten minutes, I think we’ll see plenty of more of the same from both sides.

What does Kerry represent for Tyrone people?

I’ll put it very simply; Kerry are the benchmark.

Regardless of what year it is, if it’s a bad year or not they’re having, Kerry are still the benchmark. You look at last year, there wasn’t much expectation of Kerry winning the All-Ireland, maybe Eamonn Fitzmaurice was aiming for 2015 that was more his target and it came a wee bit early.

There’s no doubt that Kerry have always set the standard and I think that’s why teams always relish the opportunity to play against them.

Maybe in the past, Northern teams went down to Croke Park, genuflected and worship at the alter of the Kingdom.

Armagh first and Tyrone subsequently were the teams that made the changed that mindset, but you still love going up against Kerry, as far as I’m concerned they represent everything about Gaelic Football.

 So, your prediction?

I think what Tyrone will have to do is not try and succumb to one of these Kerry bombardments in the first 25 minutes.

Kerry have picked their strongest full forward line O’Donoghue, Donaghy and Gooch would put the fear of God into most defences.

If Tyrone fall behind it’s going to be extremely difficult because a counter attack game doesn’t allow you to chase down a lead, so Tyrone have to keep it tight.

If they get to 50/55 minutes within a point or two, they’ll start to believe they can turn over these boys again.

Either way the game will be won by no more than two points and be decided in the last five minutes.

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