Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan returns to help Red Hands prepare for Ulster quarter-final clash

Developing Tyrone side will learn valuable lessons from Dublin loss says Seanie O’Donnell

Feargal Logan
Feargal Logan has returned to the training ground to help Tyrone prepare for their Ulster opener

FEARGAL Logan has made a welcome return to the training ground to help prepare Tyrone for Sunday’s Ulster quarter-final against Cavan at Kingspan Breffni.

The Stewartstown clubman had been out of action since mid-February due to illness but he has joined co-manager Brian Dooher to gear-up the Red Hands for the winner-takes-all clash against a Cavan side that rallied to beat Monaghan in the preliminary round game 10 days’ ago.

Logan will have watched that game with interest as the Breffnimen – spearheaded by Paddy Lynch’s 1-9 – overhauled last season’s All-Ireland semi-finalists to win the Ulster Championship opener by six points.

Tyrone struggled with injuries throughout their Division One campaign and will be without Conor Meyler on Sunday while it is understood that Michael McGleenan and David Mulgrew have left the panel since the end of the League campaign.

In the absence of several experienced players, Seanie O’Donnell was one of the members of the Tyrone All-Ireland U20 Championship-winning team of 2022 to be thrown into the breach.

Trillick forward O’Donnell made his debut against Roscommon and started every game (six in-a-row and scoring in four) until he was named on the bench for the trip to Croke Park to play Dublin.

In hindsight, that probably wasn’t a bad game to miss. Tyrone were already assured of a mid-table finish so the fixture was a ‘dead rubber’ and Red Hand fans will hope the 21-point hammering turns out to be a good omen ahead of the visit to Kingspan Breffni.

Armagh's Jarly Óg Burns and Tyrone's Conor Meyler battle it out at the Athletic Grounds. Pic Philip Walsh
Conor Meyler remains sidelined for Tyrone's Ulster Championship opener. Pic Philip Walsh

Back in 2021 the Red Hands took a similar end-of-League hiding from Kerry in Killarney but Logan and Dooher were able to regroup them and propel the pre-Championship outsiders to the Ulster and All-Ireland crowns.

“Croke Park wasn’t the result we wanted, we don’t want to be receiving defeats like that but we just had to take the learnings from it - obviously there was a lot of learnings to take,” said level-headed O’Donnell.

“The level they play at - their basic skills were higher than ours at stages – and some of the mistakes we made were when we weren’t even under pressure at times.

“That’s definitely one of the things we can work on and take away from it. Even just learning from Dublin, the way they play, the pace they play at, everything they do… They’re All-Ireland champions for a reason but we have to look at ourselves and what we didn’t do well.

“It’s also a good thing going into the Championship, it gave us a lot to work on because obviously it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t good enough for the whole group.”

Brian Dooher described the loss as “an embarrassment” but it should certainly have galvanised Tyrone minds going into Sunday’s quarter-final. After going to Clones and beating Monaghan, Cavan will be difficult to shift on home soil.

“No Tyrone team goes out and expects to be defeated like we were against Dublin,” said O’Donnell.

“I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but you don’t. I don’t think any team would expect to lose by that much but we’ll move forward together as a group.”

All-Ireland winners Conn Kilpatrick, Michael McKernan, Peter Harte and Michael O’Neill were among the players who missed the latter stages of the League but O’Donnell says the youngsters like himself, Ciaran Daly and Niall Devlin have all stepped up.

“Every team is in the same boat, a lot of teams have been hit by injuries,” he said.

“Obviously it’s up to those boys to get themselves right and ready for the Championship. The boys who have stepped up and filled their places are doing well and that’s what you expect too, everybody going at it.”