Declan Bogue: When it comes to Tyrone, they are the dog that people like to kick on the way past

Dare I say, there are bad winners everywhere. I’d guess if we had the chance to win a bit more, we could have cultivated a few ourselves
Declan Bogue: When it comes to Tyrone, they are the dog that people like to kick on the way past

Tyrone joint-manager Feargal Logan speaks to his team after win over Kerry. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Those of us from Fermanagh, subject to ritual humiliations by the footballers of Tyrone with their fans, quick to cheer passes, rapid to point in your face and laugh as you try to slip out the ground quietly, could be forgiven for holding a complex against our neighbours.

Those kind of encounters could colour your perception but with exposure and maturity, you realise that is nonsense. I live in Tyrone now. When I was building our house, our roofer asked me how I liked it round here.

“Sure people are the same everywhere,” I replied.

“Yeah,” he answered… “Knobs.” 

Dare I say, there are bad winners everywhere. I’d guess if we had the chance to win a bit more, we could have cultivated a few of ourselves in Fermanagh.

But Tyrone are the great outsiders of the last two decades. They are the fly buzzin’ in the kitchen. They are the unwelcome guest still hanging around on a Sunday evening in their sock soles, a bit too comfortable for everyone’s liking, asking if anyone fancies phoning in an order for Chinese food.

You get that sense off Pat Spillane as you look back over his Performance Art on the RTÉ live broadcast from Saturday.

Referring to Tyrone’s Covid outbreak, Spillane blurted out: "When you have a vacuum of information, as there was from the Tyrone camp, into that vacuum comes misinformation, false narrative, innuendo, and that’s what you got… Did they follow Covid protocols?"

Pat must have missed the extensive interview that Feargal Logan had with this newspaper where he detailed the exact figures of Covid infections in the camp, and the lengths they went to ensure that they kept themselves right. These included locking the dressing rooms and showers in Garvaghey and doing their video analysis sessions outside in the stand.

He spoke of how they were taking medical advice directly from Professor Paddy Mallon, a Physician in St Vincent’s Hospital and Professor of Microbial Diseases, who is constantly urging people to take up the vaccine.

Logan also revealed how had been keeping Croke Park briefed of the medical situation throughout and how the medics in the backroom team had advised players to get a vaccine. That message was repeated at the tail end of last week in an interview on the BBC website.

Spillane must also have missed Brian Dooher’s interviews on BBC and Newstalk. In all those contributions taken together, he would have found the answers to his questions.

Instead, he was allowed to lay down a series of what he described himself as "false narrative and innuendo".

But when it comes to Tyrone, they are the dog that people like to give a kick on the way past. It has become an ingrained habit. Previous manager Mickey Harte’s non-co-operation with RTÉ created a culture whereby virtually anything could be said about him and his players without fear of being challenged.

In his own contributions to the media, Harte always warned of the culture of "groupthink". But groupthink took root a decade ago in perceptions of Tyrone. Their rapsheet is known off by heart when it comes to laying down the latest charge, but this is a habit. A lazy and crude habit and all too easy to fall into.

On Saturday, West Ham played Crystal Palace. At one point, a group of dozens of cavemen began repeatedly chanting in the direction of a visiting Palace fan, ‘She’s got Chlamydia.’

It was spotted by Helen Lewis, a staff writer at The Atlantic, who drew a line from this behaviour to Lukianoff and Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind, and how chanting together produces a sense of ‘collective effervescence.’

In short, it feels good to hate on people. Even those who present as chilled-out dudes have a kernel of this at our core. You might feel appalled to read that and repulsed to acknowledge that it resides in each of us. But there it is.

In the other corner, is a team. A group of sportsmen focussed on getting the best out of themselves.

When you are part of a team, it is a powerful sensation. Your bonds and connections are heightened. No wonder when Brian Dooher felt the integrity of the group and their Covid protocols was being called into question, he reacted with sheer frustration. After all, Richard Donnelly, Rory Brennan and Niall Kelly have all played big roles in this Championship campaign and none of them were within contention for the panel at the weekend.

At the tail end of last week, Northern Ireland was the worst affected region of the UK for Covid. The figure stands at 1 in every 40 people.

Within that, the local councils of Fermanagh and Omagh, Strabane and Derry and Mid-Ulster are among the highest areas affected.

Last week, Northern Ireland had a death rate 10 times that of the Republic of Ireland, and indeed one of the worst in the western world.

If you consider those facts, and still choose to get upset about a fortnight’s postponement of a sporting fixture, then I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

Maybe nobody can.

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