We can't listen to the doubters: Tyrone defender Ronan McNamee

Ronan McNamee says Tyrone are well used to criticism

RONAN McNamee says he would hang his boots up if he listened to the doubters who wrote off Tyrone’s chances of success in 2019 after a poor start to their NFL Division One campaign.

The Red Hands opened their League account with back-to-back defeats to Kerry and Mayo before scraping a draw in Roscommon. However, an emphatic win over Monaghan kick-started their season and after last Saturday night’s impressive win over All-Ireland champions Dublin, Tyrone still have a chance of making this season’s Division One decider.

“We had a couple of losses at the start of the year,” said McNamee.

“Our season was nearly over at the start of the year, for other people, but if you listened to what was being said outside you’d hang your boots up.

“Sure there was a gale-force wind in Roscommon. You wouldn’t have put a fox out of a henhouse in it and boys were out trying to play football. We were glad of the point in the end and probably lucky to get a point out of it that day.

“It [the criticism] doesn’t surprise me. It’s the usual story. I’m used to it at this stage. If you are easily offended you wouldn’t bother togging out.”

Tyrone can still qualify for the League final should they beat Galway in Omagh next Sunday and Mayo slip up at home to Monaghan.

Dublin are out of League final contention for the first time in Jim Gavin’s managerial reign.

“[Before the game] Dublin could potentially get to a League final… Now, we need results to go our way too. It’s wide open. It’s crazy. Kerry are in the final and it could be Mayo, it could be Galway or it could be Tyrone.”

After Saturday’s three-point win over the Dubs, Tyrone boss Mickey Harte talked about the need for “variety” in their play.

Since deploying Mattie Donnelly in a more attacking role, the Red Hands have been transformed.

Donnelly and Cathal McShane excelled at Croke Park in a recalibrated Tyrone attack, especially with so many rangy kick passes going into the pair.

“Petey [Harte] has been in there at times and Cathal [McShane] throws himself about well, Mattie [Donnelly] the same. They are two very strong lads. They are versatile.

“You can play them out the field or in at full-forward; they cause a lot of confusion and they can put it up to any defender on any day so we knew if we got the right ball into them they would cause damage,” said McNamee.

“We got the ball in well at certain times and it worked well for us and there were other times we could have done better. [But] Whenever their chances came they took them.”

McShane hit 1-4 and Donnelly 0-3 to help Tyrone over the line.

The Aghyaran clubman added: “Mattie’s a good link man between him and Cathal. Cathal is the same. You can play them out or in. It’s not structured; they play off-the-cuff, so to speak. It’s not a case of staying where they’re supposed to be.

“But it’s definitely a great help to have a link man there who is capable of taking men on or taking a score or the frees. Mattie’s very strong on the ball and he’s hard to mark.”

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