GAA Football

Awesome Tyrone never put a foot wrong - until the press conference room

Tyrone's Frank Burns and Kerry's Sean O'Shea during Saturday's epic semi-final Picture: Philip Walsh.
From Brendan Crossan at Croke Park

All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final: Kerry 0-22 Tyrone 3-14


IN PR terms, Tyrone didn’t put a foot wrong since COVID engulfed the camp.

When their deferred All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry eventually got underway at sunny Croke Park on Saturday afternoon, the Tyrone players didn’t put a foot wrong on the famous turf.

They were absolutely awesome.

If things are going to unravel, it's better they unravel in the press room rather than on the field.

Following their one-point extra-time win over the heavily fancied Kingdom, Tyrone deservedly advanced to the September 11 All-Ireland final where they will face Mayo.

PR-wise, joint boss Feargal Logan was holding his own when the questions began to rain down on him from members of the media in the dank lecture theatre on the ground floor of Hogan.

COVID. Stand-offs. Deferrals. Kerry. Vaccinations.

All was going swimmingly – until the ‘V’ word was mentioned.

Maybe it was destined to always go that way.

Brian Dooher, who'd joined Logan midway through proceedings, didn’t have the patience for the direction of the post-match briefing was heading.

After a few minutes, the three-times All-Ireland winning forward grabbed his tracksuit top and left the room.

Before it all kicked off, Logan was asked did he feel “sheepish”, he answered the question on his own terms.

“Sheepish? What I can say lads, if we had trained during the lockdown period and had played fast and loose with the regulations with the COVID situation… but I have to say we did our utmost and the numbers where we live are significant.

“Of course you feel sheepish. Of course you feel vulnerable. Of course you feel weak in moments when ill-health strikes either your own house or your own community. We came here deeply respectful of everybody that kept us on the road and we don’t make that point lightly.”

Earlier, Pat Spillane claimed on RTE’s ‘live’ coverage of Saturday’s semi-final he had proof that all the Kerry players had been vaccinated, and put it to his fellow pundit and ex-Tyrone player Sean Cavanagh that his former team-mates were not.

In less theatrical terms, the same line of enquiry was put to Logan and Dooher afterwards.

“I think the vaccination is another issue,” Logan responded.

“I’ll get to that someday with people who want to get to it.”

Dooher interjected: “If this is coming at us like this… I’m not here… We came to a decision based on medical advice. We weren’t fit to field. I said we’d take the hit [offering to withdraw]; the players weren’t happy that I was pulling the Championship on them… I don’t want to get into this as if we’re playing a fast one here. It wasn’t a fast one.

“I don’t want to get into this here. [But] if that’s the way it’s going and it seems to me listening to it, I’m in the wrong place…”

Dooher was gone and so was the early composure of this press briefing.

“I’m very happy [to talk] about the football situation,” Logan added.

“The vaccination, I’ll talk to anybody again. It has been a moving feast in terms of age groups – when it’s available, how it’s available, where it’s available, which jurisdiction.

“If somebody wants to talk to me another day… I’m happy to talk football with Brian but it looks as though we’ll have to wrap it up anyway…”

The top table was soon bare.

Did Tyrone drop the ball? It depends who you talk to, but they certainly didn't drop it where it matters most - between the white lines.

It's worth repeating. Tyrone were awesome. Absolutely awesome.

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