Pádraig Hampsey knew he had a huge weight of responsibility on his shoulders.
As one of the defenders held liable for a six-goal mauling in Kerry, and as Tyrone captain, he had to set the tone and provide the leadership.
Monaghan had smacked four past Armagh in the semi-final. And they came to Croke Park looking for more.
But the work had been done and Red Hand resistance was of a higher order this time — clean sheet and an Ulster title.
“From the Kerry game we worked on trying to improve our feet position and not giving away silly frees,” he said.
“I think that has stood to us in the Ulster Championship, we haven’t given away any silly frees, although we did give a few away near the end today but that was down to fatigue. Against better teams you need to be watching that because they’re going to hurt you.” And it’s Kerry again in the All-Ireland semi-final, perhaps the real test of how far Tyrone have come since that disturbing NFL semi-final experience in Killarney.
“If you look back on that one, yeah it’s maybe good that it happened to us in that part of the season.
“But you can’t have days like that and that Kerry team showed that they are ruthless and they are going to do that to you if you’re not on your game. We’ll be expecting a tough battle in two weeks’ time.”
An emotional Seamus McEnaney reflected on the loss of dear friends as he searched for solace in the aftermath of a devastating one-point loss to Tyrone.
Fine margins, he said, were always going to decide this derby encounter, but it was a crisis of a much deeper proportion that the Monaghan boss had to address at half-time.
As his side stared down the barrel of a five-point deficit midway through the Ulster final, Banty implored them to search deep into their hearts and to delve into their DNA of Farney fearlessness.
And what he witnessed made him glow with pride as they fought back to within a point, but no closer.
“We talked about work ethic, we talked about the fight that’s in our DNA. I asked them to leave every single ounce of energy on that field before we come back in, and if we did that, I’d be proud of them. And I am proud of them.”
On reflection, it was a failure to compete in the first half that ultimately cost Monaghan a first Croke Park win over Tyrone in four attempts.
“Coming in today we had only lost one game in 2021. We were confident we would give a performance, we thought the game was a 50-50 game. Unfortunately we didn’t bring enough energy, enough aggression, enough of what we wanted to bring to the first quarter.”
And all that in the shadow of a pall of grief that has descended upon the GAA in Monaghan.
“We have had a difficult couple of weeks. First it started with the loss of our sponsor, a personal friend of my own, Philip Traynor. Then we lost Brendan Óg Duffy, which was a huge loss, but our group stayed extremely focused.
“I couldn’t be any more proud of the group of players.”