GAA Football

Lee Brennan's lack of stature saw him fall down Tyrone pecking order

Lee Brennan saw action in just two games for Tyrone in 2019. Picture by Seamus Loughran.

IT doesn’t seem like two years since Lee Brennan famously hit 3-14 in a club league game for Trillick against Strabane.

That was the day he rose to national prominence, but all summer long Mickey Harte resisted the public pressure to throw him into the Tyrone side.

In effect, it was another year before he got his big chance. A National League game against Dublin in Omagh, and he unleashes that little bounce dummy that became his trademark. Six points he landed in a performance that was followed by a fair degree of fanfare.

A hamstring injury took away the early part of his summer. A rushed return for the Monaghan game left him sidelined, but when he was fit again he found his place hard to regain.

Having come in off the bench to good effect in Ballybofey, Harte gave him the big chance in the All-Ireland semi-final. But much like Ronan O’Neill, who’d gone a couple of months before him, he found Croke Park a stage where the manager can lose his trust as much as you might gain it.

O’Neill had struggled in the 2016 All-Ireland quarter-final against Mayo, and Harte never gave him the same opportunities after it. Brennan struggled against Monaghan and was dropped for the final, coming on after 40 minutes and scoring three frees.

His game time this year amounted to 70 minutes against Mayo and 12 off the bench against Cavan. That was it.

Cathal McShane offers a different threat, one that Tyrone can go high to. Mattie Donnelly likewise. And so even Connor McAliskey, for so long their first choice corner-forward, and Darren McCurry find themselves with a real fight to get back in.

Lee Brennan had fallen to fifth in line. Game time was going to continue to be limited.

A relative lack of physical stature undermines a breathtaking finisher. Such is the modern game.

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