‘Are Dublin beatable? We believe we can compete with them’

Aidan McCrory: Aware of the nature of the challenge playing Dublin at Croke Park provides.

Tyrone are preparing themselves for every scenario in Croke Park this Sunday, according to defender Aidan McCrory.

The Hill 16 factor and the noise aspect that goes with GAA HQ being a packed house is something they have visualised to ensure they won’t be overawed by what awaits them.

“We’ve played in Croke Park, we’re used to the changing rooms and used to the feeling. The thing is, when you’re playing Dublin and the crowd is so vocal, the real difference is that you can’t actually hear people on the pitch. So, someone could be 10 yards in front of you and you could be screaming at him and he mightn’t hear you.

“So, a lot of it is just preparing; knowing that’s coming, that you’re not going to be able to hear people or communicate as well. So you have to be more aware… that someone can’t maybe give you that call, that you’ve missed something or you should be doing something else. So you have to be more aware of what’s happening around you.”

Dublin’s home comforts, such as assistance in quick kick-outs, have been spoken about before although new protocols now apply with ball boys.

Tyrone, McCrory says, can’t make a big deal of such matters. “It’s not something we’ve really thought about. It’s beyond our control, and a lot of time there’s not much point in worrying about what’s beyond your control.

“We can worry about our kick-outs and how we move the ball. But, if they have someone getting the ball out to them, we can just try and be prepared as best we can to negate the kick-out. It just means you have to be quicker on the ball; and quicker prepared for where their kick-out might be going to. But it’s not something we’ve looked into in any great detail.”

It’s not that McCrory wants to give much away about how Tyrone will counter the Dublin kick-out as adopt a wait-and-see approach. “It depends on what happens in the game. There’s no point in saying ‘We’re going to do this all the time’ because as the game changes, you have to adapt to it. In the league game we went a man down, which probably limited us on kick-outs. They were always going to have a free man.

“Dublin are capable of doing anything. They have the players there to play whatever they want. And, realistically, we can’t say what they’re going to do.

“We prepare for everything. We prepare for what they’re most likely to do, but be prepared that whatever comes you’re ready for it. We just hope we’ve thought of all the things that they might come up with, and that they don’t have anything too surprising for us.”

Tyrone have laid gloves on Jim Gavin’s side each time they have clashed in the league but must go back nine years to their last championship win over Dublin. That doesn’t dissuade McCrory in the slightest.

“Given the (league) results, we believe we can compete with them. Are they beatable? Every team is beatable. But in order to beat them it will take the best of what we have. We would have to be at our best for a full 70 minutes.

“So, the challenge for us is can we maintain such a high standard of playing to get us into the late stages of the game and, at that stage, when you’re tired, can you still make the right decisions? And, we’re just hoping that we are fit enough or we are able to at that stage and that we come out the right end of it.”


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