TYRONE joint-manager Brian Dooher cautions that the team will have to get the balance right in terms of allowing their exciting crop of young emerging players to express themselves, but while adhering to a disciplined defensive shape at the same time.
With inter-county sides due to resume training in under two weeks time (April 19), Red Hand supporters will be keen to see how the county team takes shape under the stewardship of Dooher and Feargal Logan.
It was at the back-end of November that the duo were appointed as successors to long-serving boss Mickey Harte, but due to the vice-like grip which Covid has taken on all aspects of society they have yet to get together with their new panel in person to discuss the season ahead.
The GAA is aiming to confirm its revised 2021 masters fixtures calendar in the next day or so after being given the go-ahead for senior inter-county training to resume, with the likelihood that the National League will proceed in May.
Tyrone are scheduled to face Donegal, Monaghan and Armagh in a shortened regional Division One campaign, and while these games are likely to take place behind closed doors, fans will tune in at home fascinated to see how the Red Hands style of play evolves.
The new management regime are blessed to have some gifted young attacking players at their disposal, in the form of Darragh Canavan, Conor McKenna and Lee Brennan, and allied with the class of proven marksmen such as Connor McAliskey, Cathal McShane, Mattie Donnelly and Mark Bradley, expectations will be high.
Dooher though was keen to quell suggestions that Tyrone will be adopting a swashbuckling ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ style approach in 2021.
“We are very lucky to have that talent, and there’s no point in having talent and not using it. We will be using it to the best of their ability, and in the best place where they should be. Those boys are up there, they’re dangerous forwards and they need the ball. Hopefully we’ll get enough ball in to them to get the scores.
“It will be a whole team effort at the same time. When you have those good forwards, you free up space for other people. You’d like to see other people that might not have been the marquee names appearing out of the woodwork, people who have been good footballers all along, and now they will get the opportunity to develop and flourish.
“That’s what I want to see, other boys standing up apart from the well known boys. It’s not about going out and playing with no regard to defensive football. It’s about getting a balance. We will be expecting our players when we haven’t got the ball all to be defending.”
Dooher cites the template laid down by current kingpins Dublin as an example of a team who have struck the right blend in terms of explosive scoring power and a diligent tenacious back unit.
“You look at any good team out there that has been successful, the defence starts at no. 15. Dublin is a typical example of that. Dublin’s success isn’t built just on their free-scoring, it’s built on their workrate off the ball, particularly from the forwards, and that goes unnoticed a bit.
“In any good team the workrate across the field is important, and the forwards set the tone for the workrate. It’s important to get that back in to our football again.
“In Tyrone football it probably hasn’t been there, it’s been a bit lacking this last while, that pressure coming from the forward line. I’m not being critical, but I think they could do better in that regard, I think there’s more in them.”
Tyrone will be working with an extensive squad size initially with injuries an all too obvious risk as top drawer players emerge from months in hibernation to face into high-octane competitive matches. In that regard Dooher stresses the vital input that strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly will have in the coming weeks.
“Peter is central to that, and there’s a good medical team there as well. Peter has been doing a lot with them over the last couple of months, Collie and Joe as well, setting up programmes for them. Everybody is going to have to do their bit to make sure they hit the ground in as good a condition as possible.”