Much has been made of Tyrone’s inability to match Donegal’s physicality, but Conor Gormley does not expect his former team-mates to be bullied in Ballybofey on Sunday.
The three-time All-Star defender was the one Tyrone player who memorably stood up to Donegal’s intimidatory tactics when the teams last met in the Ulster championship two years ago, shoving opponents out of the way when they tried to put goalkeeper Niall Morgan off his free-kicks in MacCumhaill Park.
Former Donegal manager Jim McGuinness recently alluded to his team’s overpowering of Tyrone as the reason they beat them three years in a row from 2011 to 2013 in the Ulster SFC.
However the recently retired Gormley, who admits he is “missing it big time” as the championship draws near, says strategy will be more important than strength.
“I don’t think our boys are too small or light, I would say they can take care of themselves,” he said.
“When Donegal beat us the last few times in Ulster, we never chatted about how we thought they were stronger than us, they were just better.
“It won’t come down to physicality because it will be more of a game-plan type thing. Tyrone need to move the ball better than they have been doing against Donegal and not carry it into the tackle.
“They will be playing into Donegal’s hands if they carry too much ball. They must be more direct in their play.”
Despite suffering relegation in the spring and entering an Ulster campaign with no expectation on their shoulders, the three-time All-Ireland winner feels Mickey Harte’s team are capable of pulling off a shock result against last year’s All-Ireland beaten finalists.
“People are talking about the U21 success but that will be forgotten, and forgotten very quickly, if the seniors are beaten on Sunday.
“If they are still thinking about being relegated, it will be a short summer but I think there is enough quality in the team to maybe pull off a wee upset. They have something about them.
“Donegal might be thinking they’re going to have an easy passage because they’ve beaten Tyrone so often and hopefully that might play into our hands.”
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