GAA Football

We expect another backlash from people: Tyrone keeper Niall Morgan

Tyrone's Niall Morgan savoured the moment of victory over Kerry at the weekend Picture: Philip Walsh
From Brendan Crossan at Croke Park

TYRONE keeper Niall Morgan fully expects another “backlash” from elements of the GAA public after they claimed an incredible extra-time victory over Kerry at Croke Park on Saturday.

Morgan fronted up before last weekend’s delayed All-Ireland semi-final by explaining in an Irish Times interview the chaotic nature of Tyrone’s preparations following a COVID outbreak in the squad.

On receipt of medical evidence supplied by the Tyrone county board to the GAA, it was agreed to grant the Ulster champions a two-week grace period to overcome the after-effects of COVID in order to take their place in the All-Ireland semi-finals.

Speaking after Saturday’s extra-time thriller over raging hot favourites Kerry, Morgan gave more insight into the Tyrone camp once COVID struck a large number of the squad.

“We got the word we were getting a week and that this was going to be grand,” said Morgan, who hit two scorching placed balls in Saturday’s one-point semi-final win.

“Then we realised what it was going to be like; boys were going to be coming out of isolation with two nights training and then going into a match and we'd be going against all the medical research, basically.

“We made the decision based on medical advice that we shouldn’t play. It was a big risk and we have to say fair play to the GAA and to Kerry as well, and thankfully it has worked in our favour.”

Morgan added: “We’ll probably get another backlash now because we actually looked the fitter team and people might say how badly were we affected. But you can’t see what’s under the bonnet, so to speak.

“Leading up to when the game should have been played, our camp was absolutely chaotic. It just wouldn’t have worked. If we’d gone down to play the game earlier it would have been silly in terms of the health of the players, so Feargal [Logan] and Brian [Dooher] made a tough decision but they made it off the back of medical advice and players wholeheartedly agreed with it.”

Some of the Tyrone players appeared to be running on empty during the second half of Saturday’s semi-final but they summoned the reserves from somewhere to haul themselves back in contention, despite trailing by two points with three minutes of normal time remaining.

“That’s probably as good as I’ve ever felt after a game if I’m being honest,” said the Edendork clubman.

“This is my ninth year on the Tyrone team and I’ve never been part of a team that has beaten Kerry, Mayo or Dublin in a big game...”

Morgan supported the change of management in Tyrone for 2021 with joint managers Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan replacing veteran boss Mickey Harte.

“If I thought that we couldn’t win an All-Ireland I wouldn’t be here, and that’s the truth. Yes, I’m sitting here nine years in without one but every year we go in with the belief that we can challenge.

“Maybe a few years ago it was a belief that we maybe shouldn’t have had because we were living off the teams of the ‘Noughties’. But we’ve been together for the last number of years and Feargal and Brian have come in this year and put a bit of a new stamp on it and freed us up a wee bit. But there is still a huge step to get to lift the trophy.”

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