GAA Football

Rory Brennan another reminder of Tyrone's embarrassment of riches

Rory Brennan in action against Donegal’s Paddy McGrath during Sunday’s win over Donegal. The Trillick man impressed after replacing Michael McKernan early in the game
By Francis Mooney

A BENCH with dynamism and explosive potential has been key to Tyrone’s spectacular recover from a first round Ulster SFC defeat to Monaghan back in May.

Seven games on, the Red Hands are a transformed outfit, performing with purpose and desire, and most crucially, finishing games stronger than they start.

The impact of game-changing replacements at Ballybofey last Sunday was quite staggering, and an eye-watering 2-5 scored by substitutes tells just part of the story.

All six men introduced by Mickey Harte made their own significant contributions to an irresistible second half surge that sent Tyrone crashing into the All-Ireland semi-final and another crack at the Farney men.

The eleven waiting in reserve must be ready for the call at any given moment, as evidenced by the introduction of defender Rory Brennan, who was thrust into the action after just four minutes after Michael McKernan was black-carded.

“That’s the way the game is now. it’s a 21-man game, and you have to have six subs ready to go from the start. Everyone is ready, and ready to come in at any stage of the game,” said Brennan, who produced a polished performance despite a lack of game-time opportunities this season.

“I’ve had a couple of injuries at the start of the year and towards the end of last year that didn’t do me any favours. But that’s just the way it is. You have to put the head down and work hard, and when you get the opportunity, try to take it. That’s the way it is.”

Brennan’s younger brother Lee finally made his return at Ballybofey following a frustrating struggle with a hamstring injury which forced him to miss six championship matches.

And after coming into the game on 39 minutes, he looked like he’d never been away, stroking over four classy points, three of them from play.

“He laid down a marker in the league, when he was top scorer. He was unfortunate to pick up a hamstring injury so close to the championship as he did,” said Rory.

“But he has been working away with the physio team and the medical staff, and he has put in a big shift there to try and get himself back fit.”

An opportunity to reverse provincial defeat to Monaghan in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final will stoke the fires of motivation as Tyrone continue their pursuit of a first Sam Maguire Cup triumph in ten years.

“We know what Monaghan are going to bring to the game. We saw them in the first round of the Championship.

“They’re a good side, under Malachy O’Rourke, they have made wee tweaks to their system, and they’re going well, so we know it will be a big task ahead.”

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