Loose words from somebody in the Donegal camp at half-time in Sunday’s Ulster final inadvertently motivated Tyrone to victory, according to Niall Morgan.
Tyrone went five points down early in the second half but completed a seven-point turnaround to arrest a run of four consecutive provincial defeats to their neighbours.
After a first half where they spluttered and finished four points adrift having lost Mattie Donnelly and Cathal McShane to black cards, Tyrone looked in distress only to pull off a convincing recovery.
Morgan recounted what was said in their direction as they made their way to the Gerry Arthurs Stand tunnel in St Tiernach’s Park.
“When we were going in at half-time we heard someone from the Donegal side shout: ‘We’ll beat this team of individuals’.
“We’re no team of individuals. We’re a massive team, we’re a unit. We go everywhere together, we do everything together.
“People talk about being over-trained — we can’t get enough training! We love it.
“We just love being together, not even the training side of things — we just love being together as a team. That’s what wins you games.”
The Tyrone goalkeeper fired over a long-range free in the 53rd minute to level the final and admitted it was some compensation for a difficult outing three years ago when he kicked over just one of six placed balls in the counties’ Ulster preliminary round clash.
“It was the chance for me to get a bit of redemption after 2013 in Ballybofey.
“I reacted stupidly to the crowd, I learned my lesson and I’ll never do that again.
“It’s great to move forward and I have a bit of confidence in myself.”
Morgan conceded Tyrone had looked too far ahead of themselves last season when they were beaten by Donegal first day out but recovered to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals.
“Every other year, you forget about Ulsters and Ulsters were something, I guess, Tyrone were getting too easy in the 2000s and they took it for granted. There weren’t pitch invasions, nobody cared and people were going home five minutes early. It’s now a big deal again in Tyrone and it’s great to see.
“All we’ve done this year is set out our plans game-by-game and looked no further than that right from the middle of December. It was just one game after the next and that’s the only way you can play this game now.
“Last year, we targeted big things and they didn’t come. This year, we are going game by game and it’s just unbelievable.
“Whoever comes next, we’ll plan and prepare for them the same way we have planned since the middle of December. We haven’t changed our pattern. We’ll sit down and watch our video, do our stats. It’s the same thing, no matter who or what happens.”
Around about now, Tyrone will begin to park their 15th Ulster title but Morgan said it had to be commemorated.
“All the talk now is about GAA players not going out – we celebrate every game that we win. It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of December or the middle of July — we’ll celebrate the same way.
“Winning at every level is a massive achievement and we’ll celebrate, don’t worry about that!”
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