GAA Football

Tyrone need to change tactics to compete with Dublin says Kieran Donaghy

Tyrone's players walk off Croke Park after their 12-point loss to Dublin in this year's All-Ireland semi-final
Andy Watters

TYRONE will need to come up with some new tactics to break Dublin’s stranglehold on the Sam Maguire says Kieran Donaghy.

Kerry Allstar Donaghy – who has strong ties to the Red Hand county through his Beragh-born dad Oliver – expected Tyrone to challenge the Dubs last season, but their damp-squib of a semi-final ended in a 12-point humiliation for the Ulster champions.

Donaghy, a four-time All-Ireland winner, says Tyrone have the players to “make a dent in Dublin” but urges Mickey Harte to come up with a new gameplan for next season.

“I’ve been tipping Tyrone over the last two years to come more than they have,” he said.

Kieran Donaghy: No regrets for choosing Kerry over US basketball

“I thought they were primed this year but their tactical approach just didn’t work against that Dublin team.

“I think the days of getting loads of bodies back against Dublin are gone, it just doesn’t work. They’re too smart and they’re all very good decision-makers on the field. They’re so smart when the game is on the line and I know they’ve done a lot of work with Jason Sherlock and basketball has been the base for a lot of it. They are very cool when it comes down to it.”

A one-point win over Mayo in September clinched a third All-Ireland on-the-trot for Jim Gavin’s side, but Donaghy is confident that Dublin’s dominance won’t last forever.

“Of course other teams can compete with them,” he says.

“We’ve done it a number of times – we beat them in the League final, we lost in close games in 2016, 2015 and 2011. Mayo have lost three close games with them. You look at that and the one thing that stands out is that Dublin keep winning so their decision making process, their will to win, their desire are all huge.

“They’re going for four in-a-row next year and that’s a huge thing for them to chase. The rest of the country is trying to stop them. Tyrone have the footballers, they have the speed, the hunger and the aggression under Mickey Harte and maybe a few tweaks in their tactics and they’ll be coming – there’s no better boys to learn from defeat.

“I’ve no doubt that they’ll be right back in the shake-up next year with the usual suspects.”

At 34, Donaghy’s time in the green and gold jersey is drawing to a close and he admits “it’s hard to pull the pin”. He’s in talks with manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, but with work and family commitments taking up more of his time,

“It’s hard to pull the plug and walk away,” he says.

“I’m in talks now but I’m very busy with work and the family – I’ve two little girls at home – so there’s a lot to think about. If it was a football decision I’d be back in the morning because it’s Kerry and I feel like I can still help.

“But it’s not just a football decision, there are more factors and unfortunately I’m at an age now where you have to weigh these things up. We’re working mad, I do a lot of travelling – we do artificial pitches and we did one for Aberdeen there and one for Chelsea so I’m going over and back to London now, we’re trying to get into the London market now.

“If you’re training with Kerry you have to be there on Tuesday and Thursday night and at the weekend and you have to try and get three weights sessions in as well. If I am doing it I have to make sure I give it the respect it deserves.”

He added: ““It’s a high-pressure jersey when you put it (the Kerry jersey) on.

“If I did go back and there was any help I could offer young players coming through I would.”

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