Aidan McCrory: Tyrone among victims of subconscious bias

Aidan McCrory

Aidan McCrory believes there is a certain amount of subconscious bias in GAA circles towards certain counties and their styles of play.

With participants in the Ulster championship most frequently labelled as the leading advocates of safety-first football, the Tyrone corner-back claims such viewpoints are irrelevant if teams go against their perceived stereotype.

“No matter how impartial people try to be, they are always going to have a certain amount of bias towards teams,” the 27-year-old said at yesterday’s Allianz GAA Regional Media Day in Donegal town.

“It doesn’t matter what we do, some people are always going to complain and it’s the same with other teams. You just can’t get caught up in it.”

Despite winning Sam Maguire on three occasions — 2003, 2005 and 2008 — Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has been facing a barrage of criticism in recent times for the conservative tactics employed by his team, particularly in the 1-11 to 1-7 victory over Mayo at McHale Park in Castlebar last month.

“I suppose Mickey has been there that long — he is high-profile; he is going to be asked questions,” said McCrory, the Errigal Ciarán man who was first coached by Harte at underage level in St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley.

“In Division One, a lot of the games we have played so far have been televised, so we have been in the spotlight a bit. As to why he is asked the questions, I don’t know. Some people have more interest in what we are doing.

“From as long as I have had Mickey as the Tyrone manager, for as long as we don’t have the ball we are all defenders and whenever we do have the ball we are all attackers. So we are just bringing that to our play.”

Tyrone are currently in a perilous position in the relegation zone in Allianz League Division One and are locked on four points with neighbours Donegal, who they face on Sunday in Ballybofey.

On Sunday, May 17, Rory Gallagher’s Donegal and Tyrone will also cross swords at the same venue in the preliminary round of the Ulster SFC. And, although Donegal defeated them three times in four seasons in the championship under former manager Jim McGuinness, it was Tyrone who came out on top the last time they clashed in the league. Michael Murphy was sent off for two yellow cards in Tyrone’s 1-13 to 0-12 victory at Healy Park in Omagh in March 2013.

“This game in context is that it is a relegation battle, we need the points to stay in the league and that is the real element of the game more than anything else,” McCrory added.

“If we were both safe, you might see a bit of chopping and changing to keep a few cards hidden but staying in Division One is important and it will be as important to Donegal as it to us.

“At the minute it is about the league and the championship is in eight weeks time. You are always building to the championship and that game is very important but we had a primary goal to stay in Division One. At the minute that is still relevant and it is something we have not achieved yet. In the league there always is the thing in the back of your mind where you don’t want to lose, but winning isn’t maybe essential.

“For us, now, every game we play is almost knock-out football.”


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