Feargal Logan has described the past month for the Tyrone football camp as “horrendous” – but he was beaming with happiness after tonight’s pulsating ambush of hot favourites Kerry.
he Ulster champions’ extra-time triumph – by 3-14 to 0-22 – completed a remarkable recovery from the Covid-19 outbreak that had decimated their panel in recent weeks, and prompted a 13-day delay to this semi-final.
It means Logan and fellow joint-manager Brian Dooher have led Tyrone to an All-Ireland final in their maiden campaign, and they will now face Mayo on Saturday week.
“Happiness” was the first word used by Logan to describe how it felt. “It was quite a game, I thought it was going to go to penalties.
“But the reaction is we were treated very fairly by the Association and we were more than appreciative of all that we got when ill health struck our camp. We’re more than thankful on that.
“If we say more than that, it sounds as though you’re patronising and All-Ireland semi-finals are very sore defeats. But two weeks ago we were potentially out of the competition and that’s the relief I feel.
“I have to commend everyone – Kerry, everyone in the Association who bore with us – and the Tyrone players who represented the county today with distinction.”
Asked about some of the critical narrative against his county, as their Covid crisis and all of the attendant controversy unfolded, the joint-manager replied: “Resilience is born out of adversity. As I sit here, I say absolutely sincerely that the last month for Tyrone football has been horrendous.
“Of course, that brings with it a narrative, and different slants are put on things that can cause all sorts of emotions and upset.
“We got back on the football field about a week ago and it worked. It did work and that’s going to be the collateral issue that surrounds something like that. We’re just delighted to be heading to an All-Ireland final.”
Logan was in self-isolation for Tyrone’s previous outing, the Ulster final against Monaghan in Croke Park. “The living room was hard,” he acknowledged, adding that it was “great to be here in the flesh.”
At least a couple of notable panellists weren’t involved in the match-day squad. “There’s a series of feedbacks out of what happened in the last month,” Logan explained. “There were staggered introductions and fellas with different levels of symptoms.
“That is a debate for another day, that issue – we’re just happy we got over the line. We were treated very fairly, we appreciated it and we grasped it there today.”
Reflecting on the impact of their bench, he demurred: “That’s Brian’s job really. If you win the substitutions are brilliant, if you lose the other way.
“They had an impact, (Daragh) Canavan puts a fizz in it when he gets on. You’re balancing the odds. It got that bad we were thinking of penalty takers as subs. We’re just delighted it worked out.”
Meanwhile, Kerry boss Peter Keane now faces an uncertain future after his hotly-fancied Munster champions were derailed in extra-time by Tyrone, and he addressed the media after coming from a “quiet dressing room, fellas are very disappointed. Obviously we came here today with an ambition of getting to a final and that’s eluded us. So there’s a lot of disappointment.”
On the question of what went wrong, Keane replied: “It’s very soon after the game. Obviously one of the things we had been doing a lot throughout the year has been scoring goals. I think we’d four opportunities today, didn’t come home with anything.
“You look at Tyrone, I think they’d three goal opportunities and came away with three. Is therein the problem? I think we had 33 shots at the post and we got 22 points.”
Reflecting on all the disruption that preceded this delayed All-Ireland semi-final, including two postponements because of a serious Covid outbreak in the Tyrone camp, the Kerry manager said: “Obviously you set out with an overall plan at the start of the year and you had to deviate from it.
“We originally thought we’d have a three-week window. Then it was becoming a four-week window and then it became a five-week window. But, look, that’s not offering up excuses here today.”
Asked specifically if he felt aggrieved over how the last few weeks had played out, he demurred: “Yerra, I’m not going there.”
But Keane accepted that the injury-enforced loss of his attacking talisman, David Clifford, for extra-time had been a major setback.
“Ah sure of course, in the game itself had he got 0-8, we’d 0-17 got (at the end of normal-time) … obviously you don’t want to be losing any player who has that capability in front of the posts,” he concluded.