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Tyrone assistant manager Gavin Devlin: Joe Brolly is great craic

Gavin Devlin claims he takes Joe Brolly's negative comments about Tyrone with a pinch of salt

See Part Two of Brendan Crossan's interview with Tyrone assistant manager Gavin Devlin

GAVIN Devlin has dismissed the notion that Tyrone get a raw deal from the media and says he “loves to hear Joe Brolly” talking about the Red Hands.

High-profile GAA pundits Brolly, Colm O’Rourke, and Ciaran Whelan have slated the three-time All-Ireland winners in recent seasons.

In a wide-ranging interview in today’s Irish News, Devlin said that GAA supporters take people like Joe Brolly “too seriously” and insisted if the colourful Derryman wasn’t on The Sunday Game he’d switch off his television.

“I actually enjoy it,” said the 36-year-old Devlin. 

“I love to hear Joe Brolly talking about us the way he does. I think it’s great craic. I enjoy watching him. If he’s not on The Sunday Game I would switch it off.”

While Tyrone supporters have been miffed by some of the comments made about their team by messrs Brolly, O’Rourke, and Whelan, Devlin laughed off the criticism.

Now in his fourth season as Tyrone’s assistant manager Devlin quipped: “Joe certainly does not wind me up… It depends how you look at Joe Brolly.

“I don’t take him seriously one bit. He’s an intelligent man and he was a fantastic player. I take it as a bit of craic.”

Asked if some Tyrone players use the criticism to create a siege mentality within the camp, Devlin simply said: “I don’t think we need it.”

This time last year the Red Hands were on the verge of being relegated to Division Two. A major low was Tyrone’s heavy NFL loss to Donegal in Ballybofey.

Despite dropping down a division, Devlin knew Tyrone were on the right road, especially with the introduction of a host of U21 players who’d just clinched the All-Ireland title.

Despite suffering relegation, Tyrone went on to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals, only to narrowly lose to Kerry.

“[During the League] I tried to tell the public and reporters last year that we weren’t as bad as that [Donegal defeat]. They thought I was ‘ganching’ – I wasn’t ‘ganching’. I’d seen it; I’d seen it on a regular basis at training.

“I knew where we were at and I knew we’d work to do offensively but he had to get the foundations dug. We were ticking along nicely.

“These guys are talented, talented players. They’ve loads of work to do but they’re on the way to doing it.”

Speaking in today’s Irish News, Devlin recalls the end of his own playing days, how highly he rated his Ardboe team-mate Brian McGuigan and sharing the sideline with Mickey Harte.

The Tyrone boss lauded the impact Devlin has made and shone a light on how the pair work together.

“I take Gavin’s defensive mindset on board,” said Harte.

“He played in defence and marshalled defence on the field. He knows how defenders should work and I can learn from him and together we work at it. We toss things at each other: what about this, what about that?

“We think a lot about what we do… I would defer to his defensive nous and I suppose having played in the forwards myself I could offer things from that side of the field.

“Gavin’s just so open and honest. What you see is what you get – and that’s nice to see.”

Although it is just 10 years since Devlin hung up his boots, the modern-day player is very different to his own playing days.

“It’s a different culture now,” Devlin said.

“What we did back in the day isn’t the norm now. What we enjoyed in the past our boys don’t enjoy. We enjoyed going out for a pint after the game; these guys would prefer to go to the gym.”

Asked does he feel the modern inter-county player is missing out on the social side of the game, Devlin smiled: “It depends what you’re used to. After a game we went for a pint. That was our life. 

“Now it’s just a new generation, it’s what they enjoy and who are we to tell them that they’re doing it wrong?”

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