'They definitely wanted it more': Tyrone boss Dooher accepts defeat against Galway

Allianz Football League Division One, round three: Tyrone 0-12 Galway 1-10

Tyrone manager Brian Dooher
Tyrone's Brian Dooher at the start of the Allianz Football Division one Round Three game between Tyrone and Galway at O'Neills Healy Park Omagh on 02-18-2024.

TYRONE boss Brian Dooher queried the referee’s time-keeping at the end – but also his own players’ decision-making and even their desire.

The Red Hands had possession and were probing for an equaliser deep into added time when Joe McQuillan sounded the long whistle, leaving Galway as narrow victors of a low quality encounter.

“It was a surprise,” acknowledged Dooher, “I thought we would have got a bit more [time]. But that’s the decision he makes, that’s the way it is, and we have to live with it.

“We didn’t get the shot off quick enough, the whistle went – that’s it game over. Should we have had? Could we have had? We probably should have had but, whatever – we didn’t.”

Indeed, the Clann na nGael clubman was not making complaints, even accepting one journalist’s suggestion that the visitors had ‘wanted it more’ than his team:

“They did, aye. They definitely wanted it more and we had chances, we didn’t get going really, didn’t get into our groove as much as we did in the first half.”

Galway boss Pádraic Joyce fists a ball.
Galway boss Pádraic Joyce at the start of the Allianz Football Division one Round Three game between Tyrone and Galway at O'Neills Healy Park Omagh on 02-18-2024.

In contrast, Galway manager Padraic Joyce was delighted with the character shown by his players, who dug out this win despite being without many big names and also losing Paul Conroy and then Matthew Tierney to injuries: “It’s one thing I never questioned as a manager, they have always showed it, maybe not enough at times. It’s great that they showed it here in Omagh. It’s a hard place to leave with two points, our backs were to the wall - let’s call a spade a spade, we knew ourselves it was a ‘must win’ game for both teams to try to give a bit of a cushion for next week.”

While Galway host Derry, Tyrone face Connacht opposition again, at home to Mayo. Although Kieran McGeary came off the bench, the Red Hands are likely still to be without experienced players such as Mattie Donnelly, Cathal McShane, Conor Meyler, Frank Burns, and Michael O’Neill.

“We have a lot of men injured,” said Dooher, “purely because they have been on the go for so many years and constantly and it’s taken its toll on the bodies.

“That’s where we are. But that’s an excuse at the same time. We should have gotten something out of that game today. I felt we should with the opportunities we had. We just didn’t convert what we should have had.”

Shorter term exertions also cost Tyrone. A flying fit Darragh Canavan might have made a difference in the closing stages but he was withdrawn 20 minutes into the second half after his midweek efforts in winning the Sigerson Cup with Ulster University.

“Darragh, the legs were gone. And it’s no shame. He has played a lot of football over the last month or so with college football and it does take its toll on fellas unfortunately.”

Tyrone have to battle on, and Dooher insisted that they will: £We have two points next Saturday night to go for, and we’ll fully commit to that cause, get ready for it and give the best account of ourselves.”

Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.