Treble All-Ireland winner Ryan McMenamin says Tyrone can no longer be considered a top tier footballing force.
A shock exit from the All-Ireland series at the hands of Ulster rivals Armagh brought the Red Hand season to an early end.
Former defender McMenamin has conceded the good times are over for now and the strategy must focus on building for the future.
“Definitely not, they’re not a top tier team any more. People have to realise that,” he said.
“I played football from 2000 until 2012, and we only won the All-Ireland three times out of 13 or 14 years.
“Before 2003, Tyrone weren’t considered a top tier team, and they have come a long way. The boys are going to have to knuckle down and work hard, the team is going to have to lower its expectations and say, ‘well, we can’t win an All-Ireland this year, but we can win an All-Ireland in maybe two or three years’.”
Tyrone have not won an Ulster title since 2010, faltering once again at the quarter-final stage this year when they lost to Monaghan. A provincial title is vital for a group of young players who have won nothing at senior level, according to McMenamin.
“We have to concentrate on winning an Ulster, and the supporters are going to have to take their expectations down. You never know what can happen next season.
“This group of players have come up from the minors of 2008 and 2010, and have won All-Irelands, but they have won nothing at senior level.”
“Donegal proved it in 2011 when they won Ulster, that it was a springboard for them.
“But Tyrone will have to learn how to win hard games, and that’s going to be key.”
And the Dromore man urged Tyrone fans to lower their expectations.
“Maybe last year spoilt us a bit, when we got to an All-Ireland semi-final and got to a league final, and maybe we were expecting the same thing again. It is going to take a couple of years, and people in Tyrone will have to realise that we can’t win All-Irelands every year. It is going to take time.”
McMenamin, a mainstay of the Tyrone defence for 12 years until his retirement in 2012, believes the team paid the price for its attacking strategy this year.
“With the attacking football they did play in the league, it was leaving them open.
The defensive system worked well for them last year, but I think this year they went too much on the attack. The players are on board to do it, and there are a lot of young players who made a lot of good contributions.”
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