DERRY’S desire to inflict defeat upon Tyrone shone through during their Ulster Senior Football Championship first round win last week.
Their hunger to emerge from the shadows of the Red Hands was evident, not only from the players on the pitch, but notably from the sidelines where manager Rory Gallagher, a man with no love for Tyrone, prowled and directed affairs with real intent.
I witnessed Gallagher on the sidelines and I never in my life saw a coach going through the rigmarole that he went through to get them going and it worked out.
I think we might have underestimated the motivation that was coming from the Sperrins as far as we’re concerned. Derry were highly, highly motivated through Gallagher.
The fact that Derry are looking over the border at Tyrone winning Ulster’s and All-Ireland’s, there has to be an element of envy and there’s only one way you’re going to go with that, it’s going to motivate you.
The motivation and desire was clear to see and it had made a real difference to the Oak Leafers’ performance, which moved up several gears after a disappointing defeat against Galway in the league which left many thinking a Tyrone victory would be a formality.
That was far from the case, however, as Derry proved worthy winners on the day, while Tyrone looked a shadow of the team which annexed both the Ulster and All-Ireland titles last year.
There was nothing expected of Tyrone last year and some of the pundits are calling us lucky for winning the All-Ireland but I wouldn’t agree with that.
The fact that we came through such a tough Ulster Championship and ended up beating Donegal and Monaghan in the final and beat Kerry and then Mayo, we beat the best teams in Ireland in my opinion.
So we came through a tough campaign, and yes, there is an element of luck you require, but in no way I would describe it being lucky to win the All-Ireland.
And a lot of teams are looking at us in that light, that we were lucky, but they are also thinking they can do that as well, the likes of Donegal, Monaghan and Derry.
The defeat against Derry, they were motivated knowing that the Al-Ireland champions were there to be chopped down and Gallagher, it’s a known fact that he detests Tyrone football – he’s a Fermanagh man, he was in Donegal and he’s now in Derry.
He carries that wiith him and there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Derry were going to be highly motivated for it and I think in the game, we had a couple of chances early on and had we hit them with an early goal who knows how things may have transpired.
It’s all about your attitude and how you get started and we didn’t get started, we didn’t get out of the blocks quick enough, while Derry slowly but surely got momentum.
I’d give Derry a lot of credit for the attitude they had and the way they played it but there’s still going to be a kick in this Tyrone team, we’re not out of anything yet.
We were very, very poor but if six or seven lads had played Ok, played up to their standards and we got beat then you would be more disappointed and concerned about where we go from there.
But the fact there wasn’t a single player played anywhere near his standard or his best, there is so much room for improvement.
Looking at it, our attitude may have been a bit low-key and you’ll never change it on the pitch, you’ll never know how motivated you are until you play and I’ve always said that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Once you’re hit the way we were hit by Derry, you only realise then how motivated you are.
We just don’t have a problem on the football side, but on the mental side which is what we need to be working most on
. There is a good squad of players there but I think there’s work to be done psychologically.
Because we don’t carry it well, the champions tag, unlike Dublin who amazingly won six in a row and they carry that, while I think Tyrone perform better when they have a chip on their shoulder.
There was a lot of talk last year from the serious pasting we got in Killarney and I think this beating was way worse, so if we want to look at something to motivate us, to bring us back, there’s nothing better than that.
We’ll have to learn a lot from the Derry set-up and situation, they showed us what motivation is.
But there’s an opportunity there now in the Qualifiers if we want it, if we genuinely do want to go out and redeem ourselves because the ability is there and the opportunity is there if we want to seize it.
But it will be interesting to see who we get, there’s a couple of big names in there and I think the God’s have it we will end up meeting Louth! What other story would you want than that!