GAA Football

Phoney war would waste a chance for Tyrone: Gourley

Tyrone host Dublin in Omagh for the second year running, and ex-Red Hand star Ciaran Gourley believes the hosts have to try and find some chinks in Dublin's armour when they get the chance.
Francis Mooney

By Francis Mooney

THIS is no time for a phoney war. Tyrone must throw everything at Dublin this weekend and probe for any weaknesses that may have crept into the Sky Blue psyche.

That’s the opinion of former Red Hand star Ciaran Gourley, who wants to see a full-blooded encounter between last year’s All-Ireland finalists, despite the fact that both have already qualified for the semi-finals.

Sunday’s Super 8s tie is a dead rubber, but the treble All-Ireland winner believes it could nevertheless produce a fierce contest in front of a full house at Healy Park.

“I think they have to push them. Dublin haven’t really been tested this year, so go for it again. It’s a home match, really push them, and maybe identify weaknesses that they have,” said Gourley.

“Because at the end of the day, it might be the same old story, where Tyrone might push them for most of the game and then Dublin pull away in the last ten, which they did in the All-Ireland final last year.

“Mickey has always been a man that wanted to go for games, and I can’t see any change in that.

“If Tyrone get a result over Dublin, it will give them confidence. The fear is that if Dublin are beaten, it will give them a wake-up call, which may not be a good thing.”

Gourley, still playing with his club, Rock, at 40 years of age, would like to see Tyrone play the style of attacking football that worked so well for them against Cork.

After falling seven points behind at Croke Park, they switched from a counter-attacking approach to a more direct strategy, pressing high up the field.

“I think Tyrone will definitely go for it, possibly try and play some of the style of football they did against Donegal, which didn’t come off for them on the day.

“But they’re going to have to try something different to try and unlock Dublin.

“If Tyrone keep doing the same as what they did before, in terms of the hard running game, it will beat a lot of teams, but when it comes to the ultimate test against Dublin, that’s where it’s falling short for them.

“So they have had to try and get a variation of it. Dublin have shown a wee bit of weakness with ball played into their defence, and if you hit them with early direct ball at times, it’s going to cause them trouble.

“I think Tyrone have realised that they’re going to have to play more of that, because if you play that sort of counter-attacking football against Dublin, they will pick holes in your defence.”

While Group 2 in the Super 8s is done and dusted after two rounds of games, Group 1 offers intriguing possibilities going into the concluding fixtures, with three teams vying for two semi-final spots.

Kerry are best placed, but it’s all to play for on Saturday in a blockbuster eliminator in Castlebar, where Mayo take on Donegal.

And in Gourley’s eyes, the unpredictability of all those who remain standing adds spice to what is certain to be a tasty afternoon.

“On different weekends you see one team getting ahead of another. Kerry put in a brilliant performance against Mayo, but then the game between Kerry and Donegal showed that Donegal are up there too at that level.

“And Mayo is that enigma, you just don’t know what you’re going to get from them, and with the game against Donegal, winner takes all, it’s a massive challenge and they could potentially come out of that with a result.

“They are a team that has challenged Dublin before in recent years and got very close to them. And off the confidence of having done something like that, could potentially get there."

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