GAA Football

Patience paying off well for Tyrone and Pomeroy's Kieran McGeary

Tyrone's Kieran McGeary puts Donegal's Michael Langan under pressure in Ballybofey. Picture Seamus Loughran

GOOD things come to those who wait – and the patience of Kieran McGeary and his Tyrone team has been paying off.

The Pomeroy man was regular starter last season, but has been restricted to coming off the bench in all eight Championship matches so far this season.

Yet although there’s an increasing clamour for the likes of himself and Lee Brennan to line out against Monaghan in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final after they came on to inspire victory over Donegal in Ballybofey, he accepts that they both may have to settle for sitting on the bench again – at least at first.

“Ah, look you hear a mixture of things all the time and you filter it out. Whatever is best for this team, it is entirely up to Mickey [Harte] and whatever he says we totally respect. Whether you don’t play, you play two minutes, or you play 75, whatever is best for this team, you do it.”

Asked if he and others like the Brennan brothers, Lee and Rory, and Ronan O’Neill now regard themselves as game ‘finishers’ rather than starters, McGeary responded:

“You could label it any sort of way. At the end of the day if we had been beaten [by Donegal] no one would be talking about the difference we made when we came on.

“There is no specific role that anyone has when you come onto the field, there is no label that you hold. When you come onto the field, you just come on and try your best and if it works out, it works out.”

Tyrone subs have scored 6-13 in their last four matches, including 2-5 to turn Sunday’s game completely around in MacCumhaill Park, and McGeary acknowledged that the Red Hands are waiting to seize scoring chances in the closing stages of games:

“There’s a 15-minute window of opportunity in the second half when you just have to go for it. If you can pull away from a team at stage then that’s where the winning of game can be.

“Donegal had chances to sneak in for goals and fortunately we turned them over. We had our chances too and we took them – and that’s just the fine lines that can be in it.”

Having scored two points in the narrow defeat by Dublin, and a superb score just before Tyrone’s first goal against Donegal, McGeary accepted that he tries to take on defenders:

“Well, when that 15-minute opportunity presents itself, you have got to be direct. Boys are feeling their legs at that stage and if you put a man on the back foot, and you score, he starts to question himself.

“I know if it happened to myself and somebody scored a point like that, I’d question my fitness for the last 10 minutes as well. When the chance comes you just have to take it.”

Tyrone have certainly taken their second chance since being beaten first time out – at home, to boot – by Monaghan in Ulster.

The Red Hands battled through extra time away to Meath (forced by McGeary setting up Cathal McShane for a last-gasp leveller in added time) and also doggedly hung in with Donegal before blowing them away late on.

“There are only so many times you are going to back a dog into a corner, they are eventually going to bite,” said McGeary.

“It is the sign of a good team that can go neck and neck in tight games and come out on top. We have done that a few times. It is tight every day we go out. There is nothing between teams now, be it Connacht, Munster , Ulster or Leinster, there is nothing between teams, especially when you are down to the last four stage.

“We are facing Monaghan now, another massive Ulster derby in the All-Ireland semi-final. We have seen it before and we are going to see it again.”

McGeary accepted that the near-loss in Navan may have helped Tyrone be more positive since, scoring significantly in most matches, saying: “You have to throw off the shackles eventually and go for it. We have been there or thereabouts in the last number of years.

“There is nothing to say that this year we could not go the full way but again we have to face the minute in front of our face. We will recover now, we will analyse this game, we will look forward to the next one and get ready for next week.

“Next week will be a massive battle again and, if it goes to the wire, I know we’re ready to go to the wire.

“Next week is do it or die trying - we just have to go for it basically.”

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