By Niall Gartland
DONEGAL legend Michael Murphy expects at least some of Tyrone’s elder statesmen to return for the 2024 season following Saturday’s disappointing championship exit at the hands of Kerry.
Murphy, who hung up the boots at intercounty level last November at the age of 33, thinks that the raft of young talent coming through the ranks may encourage the lads around the same age as himself to hold off on retirement in the hope of claiming a second All-Ireland medal.
“I don’t expect a litany of retirements. Tyrone have a small number of lads over the 30 mark and they keep themselves in really good shape and will look to put their best foot forward for Tyrone.
“It’s ultimately up to them to make their decisions. They’re in good condition and they’ll also be encouraged by the young lads coming through, it’s only last year that Tyrone won the All-Ireland u-20 title and that might keep them on for another while yet.”
Murphy considers that playing three weeks in as many matches may have caught up with the Red Hands as they slumped to a 12-point defeat at GAA Headquarters, and he also thinks they didn’t offer enough on an attacking front to really trouble the reigning All-Ireland champions.
“Maybe we’re now seeing the issues that arise from playing three games in three weeks.
“When Kerry got on top on the beginning of the second-half there was no reaction with Tyrone, which is something you wouldn’t really associate with them.
“Defensively I thought Tyrone did okay in the first-half but those three points Kerry got before half-time gave them a platform at 0-9 to 0-6 and they never really looked back.
“They put the game to bed with 1-5 to no reply in the moving quarter and Tyrone didn’t have enough going forward barring a few pieces of individual brilliance from the Canavans, there wasn’t enough method to their attack.”
On the plus side Cathal McShane returned from a prolonged break with injury to kick two points in the second-half.
“Tyrone do have good forwards, the Canavans have been a breath of fresh air and it was encouraging to see Cathal come back and kick two points. They’ve still got good talent but the concern is that they haven’t pushed on since their All-Ireland win two years ago.”