GAA Football

Dermot Carlin: Players from golden era can help inspire Tyrone stars of the future

Former Tyrone corner-back Dermot Carlin is now part of the county's U20 management team, alongside Paul Devlin and Paddy McGuigan. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

THE involvement of players from Tyrone’s golden age can help drive the county to success in the future, according to Dermot Carlin.

Killyclogher corner-back Carlin has recently joined up with 1995 All-Ireland finalist Paul Devlin and Paddy McGuigan as part of the county’s U20 management team, becoming the latest player from the famous Noughties sides to put their shoulder to the wheel.

Tyrone landed three All-Ireland titles in the space of six years during a decade to remember, and Carlin was there for both the 2003 and 2008 successes.

Gavin Devlin has been Mickey Harte’s right hand man since 2013, while John Devine is currently on board as goalkeeping coach.

Brian Dooher and Peter Canavan were part of the U21 management team that led Tyrone to the 2015 All-Ireland title while Collie Holmes guided the Red Hands U17s to All-Ireland glory last year.

And towards the end of last year Stephen O’Neill was drafted in as a forwards coach as Harte looks to rebuild after their harrowing All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin.

That continuity of personnel, Carlin feels, can help keep Tyrone on the front foot.

“It’s very important,” he said.

“It’s a very smart move, Mickey bringing Stevie onboard because for any forward at all, if you watch videos of Stephen O’Neill, you want to be like him because he was just exceptional.

“It wasn’t just pure talent that got Stevie where he was, Stevie worked hard at his game, he was prepared to put in the hours on the pitch on his own.

“I remember before we retired the two of us had Achilles problems, we were out for six weeks or so, and Stevie said ‘do you want to have a shooting competition?’

“I might not even have scored, but some of the shots he was taking were unreal, then you see what he does in matches - you can see he has practised that over and over again.

“Having talent is great but if you don’t work hard, you’re no good - if he can relay wee bits like that to some of the other forwards it can only be a good thing.

“We’ve three teams that have won All-Irelands, so if they can pass any wee thing on it’ll help. It’s good to have men who have won something - the likes of ‘Horse’ [Devlin], John Devine, Stevie - to tell stories.

“They’re all fellas who have been there and done it.”

Dublin boss Jim Gavin has also surrounded himself with former team-mates like Declan Darcy and Jason Sherlock, but it is more than just experience and expertise that sees his all-conquering side as the one to beat.

Carlin knows that better than most.

His wife Nuala was a Gaelic promotion officer for Raheny on the city’s northside back in the early 2000s, and she saw first hand exactly the amount of work going in at ground level to build the solid foundations on which Dublin GAA stands today.

“That was 15-16 years ago and she was working with the primary school kids – the likes of Brian Fenton, she would’ve been in when he was at school,” he continued.

“And every club in Dublin would’ve had their own officer, some had maybe two or three. That’s going back to 2004, and all that groundwork is coming to fruition now with all the fellas who have come through.

“Dublin have set the bar. But, at the end of the day, the might produce 40 players but you can still only play so many, so it’s up to the other counties to try and produce enough so that they can compete with them at a level.

“If the fellas you’re dealing with have the right attitude and are prepared to put in the work, they can excel.”

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