GAA Football

Tyrone try to distance themselves - and the media - from Covid controversy

Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan.
Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Kenny Archer outside Garvaghey

TYRONE did their best to keep Covid at bay during their All-Ireland Final media evening but the whiff of controversy continued to swirl through the air.

Indeed although joint-manager Feargal Logan appealed for questions about football only he also accepted that there may be further scrutiny of the Red Hands down the line, saying: "There will be a time and a place, if there's further enquiry needed, we've absolutely no difficulty."

Standing outdoors at the county training centre at Garvaghey, before the interviews conducted with strictly enforced social distancing, Logan welcomed the assembled media by saying "we're looking at a very important day on Saturday week, a very important footballing day for Tyrone generally and all of ourselves. So in the circumstances, feel free to ask whatever you want to ask.

"If it strays beyond football and it enters arenas of Covid or vaccinations, we don't feel it's appropriate. We don't mean any disrespect or ill-will if we say to you 'Listen, have you a football question please?' That's the way we'll be dealing with it. There's a time and a place.

"It's a very serious issue, what's happening around our own county at the moment. So we don't think it's appropriate to be batting it about."

However, Logan did then engage with some aspects relating to player availability and vaccination of spectators for the September 11 final against Mayo.

Although he declined to name names of players who had been worst affected by Covid, he insisted the virus had ruled some out of last weekend's delayed semi-final against Kerry:

"In any event, whatever about any other debate in the privacy of the squad we would just honour our position. We'll review it all and see where it lands us but be assured that there were several players that we just felt were not right."

Logan welcomed speculation that the Irish government might allow a 70 per cent capacity at Croke Park for the final, around 57,000 spectators:

"As a player you would like to play in front of the biggest crowds you can play in front of because the atmosphere on Saturday was very good and that would be added to with more people there.

"On a very practical level it would ease a bit of difficulty around this county in the next few weeks on pure tickets but those are things that are way beyond our control… We were appreciative and glad that there was 24,000 in last weekend and it added to the occasion.

"And, of course, in an All-Ireland final you would like to be there with 82,000 but whatever happens we will just have to deal with it. I am sure everyone involved in it will deal with it sensibly and as best as possible in all the circumstances of a public health emergency we are dealing with."

Asked if a higher attendance should be allowed without vaccination stipulations, Logan commented: "I an sure the people who have responsibility for making those decisions will do it in the best interests of everyone and whatever pops up, we will be happy with. As I have said before, we have been treated fairly and we trust everything will work out."

Tyrone vice-captain Kieran McGeary knocked back a Kerry claim about a game which seemed a lifetime ago, the League Division One semi-final in Killarney on June 12, rejecting former Kingdom boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice's contention that Tyrone had done a gym session before that match.

Fitzmaurice also said the Tyrone squad had gone for a run in Killarney National Park before that humiliating defeat, but McGeary rejected that:

"Ah, this is absolute nonsense. It's not true. We were in Killarney National Park. But I would say I have done more walking up around here [at the media night] than we did in Killarney National Park that day.

"It's absolutely not [true]. I was just thinking when I was watching a few Kerry people walking by, 'I guarantee somebody will say we were training here.' So that's obviously where that has come from, but no. We did not do a gym session."

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