You are viewing the content for Monday 29 September 2003

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.

 

History’s Red Hand

Tyrone fans

By Tony Leen
CONOR GORMLEY may rise only 5 ft 10 above the ground, but he now walks in a world where Tyrone people have elevated him to an ethereal plateau in the home of the new All-Ireland football champions.

In a corner of the winning dressing room in Croke Park yesterday, Gormley sits with two colleagues. Dazed. People mill around Mickey Harte a yard away, and one journalist offers a quick wave at Gormley, probably unaware that he has just saluted the man who has made history for his county.

This is no exaggeration, no crass short cut to the bottom line. The intervention - henceforth to be known as The Block - by Gormley in the 68th minute of yesterday’s throbbing All-Ireland final will change his life. Forever.

Gormley doesn’t realise it yet. I know that from repeated attempts to impress its importance on him afterwards. But he will. When Tyrone people get dewy-eyed in decades to come about the Canavan legacy, an aged sage may remind them how the war was won.

This is how. After 64 minutes of an attritional contest so intense that it induced headaches, Owen Mulligan surged clear of everyone to stake his claim for immortality. As 79,391 people held their breath, Mulligan elected for the security of a point and missed badly. The Red Hand following gulped so hard that they could barely muster a roar to welcome Peter Canavan’s re-introduction.

Armagh attacked, though with three minutes remaining, their aerial route had a sense of desperation about it.

Cormac McAnallen, the Tyrone full-back, needed to show leadership, and surged outfield. Critically, he left Steven McDonnell behind him, inside the cover. The Tyrone calls got lost in the mayhem, and Collie Holmes went for the same ball. Tony McEntee grabbed the scraps for Armagh and dished the moment of truth on a plate to McDonnell.

"I just thought ‘Jesus’," said McAnallen. "Steven McDonnell doesn’t normally miss these." There were three points between the sides, two minutes on the clock, but a lifetime of minutes remaining for a Tyrone side without an All-Ireland.

"It was just an incredible block. It was one of those heroic moments. McDonnell didn’t miss. Conor just came from nowhere," shrugged McAnallen.

Gormley is one of Tyrone’s foot-soldiers. He doesn’t dare to be the hero, because his mind doesn’t work to that rhythm. When he was 10, Gormley used to watch All-Ireland finals and think that if Tyrone ever scaled the wall to Croke Park, he would be a substitute. That would have been enough. Just to be part of the day. Yesterday, he finished on the bench, but he had already crossed the threshold to heroism.

"I just had to get back in there. That’s my job. I can’t really recall it. You don’t get a chance to think ‘that was close’ because the ball didn’t go out of play.

" But I knew he going for goal. I just dived on it. Christ, I got up and the ball was still there - Tony McEntee got it back across, but we scrambled it away. Tough going."

Gormley’s block provides an apt perspective on the final. It was won by an incredible defensive intervention. Armagh lost their title because, for once, their opponents were as indignantly stubborn as themselves. Tyrone are a better footballing outfit than anything on offer in Ireland at present, but once they’d cut Fermanagh to ribbons in the quarter-final, the enormity of the prize obliterated all other considerations.

And in becoming the 19th county to win the All-Ireland football title, Tyrone’s fans brought an emotional element to Croke Park yesterday that might have forced a weak manager’s head below the waterline.

Not Mickey Harte. At an emotional team meeting on Saturday night, where players swapped medals, prayers and stories of visits to relatives’ graves, Harte and his selectors devised a game plan for a crocked Peter Canavan. In truth it was a calculated gamble, and Canavan himself knew as he ran onto the field that he was living a lie.

Said Harte: "We knew it would be difficult for Peter to last 70 minutes given the condition he was in, but it was important from a psychological point of view that he start. He was a big influence with his frees."

As the sides changed ends with Tyrone leading 0-8 to 0-4, Canavan, who had participated in the half-time review, remained behind in the dressing room to be patched up for a final assault. He was spared the sight of Ger Cavlan’s gilt-edged chance flashing wide of the Armagh post, and by the time he returned, Armagh had been reduced in number by Diarmuid Marsden’s harsh sending off.

However, Armagh refused to yield, and grew as champions grow. Tyrone were creaking, with frozen minds and patched up bodies.

"The injuries were bad," revealed Owen Mulligan afterwards. "I’d had an injection for my shoulder, so had Peter, Chris Lawn and Philip Jordan.

"We all knew what was happening with Peter. We were told last night what was going to happen and when we fluffed a couple of goal chances, I thought we might pay."

Even at the other end of the field, Mulligan was open-mouthed at Gormley’s heroism with the score at 0-11 to 0-8. "I was certain it was a goal. I was waiting for the net to bulge.....I had to look up at the giant screen to see how close it was."

This was to be Tyrone’s year. They all accept that. Nobody in the squad interpreted the defeat of Kerry as a rite of passage. Having met Armagh last year, they knew they were close.

"As soon as we beat Derry in the replay", said Mulligan. "I knew we’d be thereabouts. We’re all big mates, all hang about together, know each other’s game so well."

Mulligan, who landed two critical frees in the second period, was one of many players who mentioned the hurt of the Sligo defeat last year. But he had a personal incentive too.

"I lost a very dear friend this year. When I was growing up, my uncle Sean taught me everything about football, watched all my games at primary school. This would mean a lot to him."

Harte was loath to elaborate on Saturday night’s team meeting, but the intensity of the support for his team in Tyrone gave them an extra 5%.

"That’s the spirit of what the GAA is about, real people with a passion for the game. People who don’t divorce football from their real life."

Football and life. Moments that change history. Immortality. Heroism. Conor Gormley.