Tyrone defender, Michael McKernan, believes that All Ireland champions, Dublin, are not as far ahead of the chasing pack as everyone thinks.
McKernan featured at centre-back in the All Ireland final as Dublin cruised past Mickey Harte’s side to claim their fourth title in a row.
Few teams can close to ending Dublin’s unbeaten run in 2018 but the Ulster University student insists that other counties will improve and pressurise Jim Gavin’s men, though he admits it is a “tough ask”.
“They’re very calm, they’ve been there and done it. They’ve experienced it.”
“Hopefully, last year’s experience will help us. You seen Mayo brought them to a replay and were only a kick of a ball away from beating them so I don’t think they’re as far as everyone says but it’s definitely a tough ask.”
The Tyrone squad will look back on 2018 with mixed emotions. Reaching the All Ireland final was no mean feat but exiting Ulster at the quarter-final stage, following defeat to Monaghan. For McKernan, it was the year in which he nailed down a starting position and enjoyed some memorable days in GAA HQ.
“It was good for me personally, but, then again, it’s a team sport we’re playing.”
“I hadn’t played in Croke Park until this year. And then my third or fourth time playing in it was an All-Ireland Final. It’s kind of surreal looking back on it.”
“It was a very good experience because I think maybe only Collie Cavanagh and Cathal McCarron who played in the 2008 Final, no-one else had played in one.”
“Even for this year coming it gives us a lot of experience. If we get to that position again we’ll know how it feels and how not to be overwhelmed.”
As well as an Allianz League opener against Kerry, McKernan is also preparing for for the Sigerson Cup with UUJ. Living with members of the team from other counties has been a major positive for the 21-year-old as they look towards the “tough competition.”
“It’s a good experience because you can then see what type of training they’re doing, what they’re eating, and if they’re similar to you.”
“I suppose we’re all the same, we’re all maybe training and going to the gym and all that there. It brings out the bad habits if you’re living with your own friends.”
“It’s a very tough competition, because if you’re not playing with boys that are on county teams you’re playing with boys who are pushing for county teams and are looking to be seen because county managers take interest in it.”
“It is a challenge for them boys to be seen so everyone wants to perform at a high level and you still have to perform at a high level at this time of year.”
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