Home GAA “Tyrone Will Be Waiting For Them In The Long Grass”

“Tyrone Will Be Waiting For Them In The Long Grass”

Tyrone may have beaten Dublin at the weekend but all anybody is talking about is the half-time brawl that took place as both teams headed down the tunnel in Healy Park. 

The All-Ireland champions headed north as heavy favourites as despite being run close by both Monaghan and Donegal in previous weeks, Dessie Farrell’s side went into round five unbeaten.

Tyrone, meanwhile, suffered an annihilation in round four against table-toppers Galway and many expected the trend to continue against the five-in-a-row winners.

The win marks the second year running that Mickey Harte’s side have turned over Dublin in the league. However, the Red Hands haven’t been as lucky in their championship meetings with Dublin falling to defeats in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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This led to many claiming that there was no longer a rivalry between the two counties, however, Owen Mulligan feels that theory was well and truly debunked at the weekend.

The Paddy Power GAA Columnist also believes that Saturday night’s game should not have gone ahead due to the horrendous weather conditions that blighted the quality on show. He also felt that the early signs portrayed that Tyrone would be more up for it than Dublin.

“All I was hearing last week was that the rivalry is gone now from the Tyrone and Dublin games from years ago. How wrong the experts were!

“After a long pitch inspection from the Omagh officials on Saturday morning, the referee had his turn 2 hours before throw-in. The decision was to play. Personally, I couldn’t understand how it went ahead. The pitch was soaked right up the middle and there was no bounce on the ball what so ever, not to mention the driving rain and gale-force winds.

“I felt Tyrone were more up for this and wanted the game to go ahead as they were out warming up a good 40 minutes before Dublin. Then Dublin came out gingerly to get ready for the game. Tyrone needed any advantage going after the week the team had.”

On the topic of that fight, Mulligan was playing 14 years ago when Dublin travelled to Healy Park to take on the then All-Ireland champions, Tyrone, in a game that has since become to be known as the “Battle of Omagh”.

Mulligan’s experience helps him to understand that players have to protect themselves and their teammates but he admits that tunnel bust-ups are the most dangerous kind of fights that occur in Gaelic games.

“This game will be unfortunately remembered for what went on going up the tunnel in Healy Park. This is not the first time Tyrone and Dublin have clashed in Omagh. I was playing that day when the famous Battle of Omagh brawl broke out, and for four or five minutes it’s dog eat dog in there. You must first protect yourself then your teammates.

“But it seemed on Saturday night that backroom staff and water carriers all felt the need to defend their team’s honour. A tunnel bust-up is the most dangerous of them all as players can take a free go and not be sighted.

“It is too easy in Omagh to access that tunnel and get on to the pitch for supporters. I will be very surprised if anyone gets suspended from this altercation. But I do expect to see fines for both counties who will be warned about future conduct.”

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Tempers spilt over into the second half where the referee was forced to take action flashing an array if cards throughout. Mulligan feels this is this cynical type of play is becoming a recurring theme for Dublin.

“Tempers were still boiling from what had happened 15 mins prior, so the second half was full of off the ball incidents. Padraig Hampsey got sin-binned just after the break and an array of yellows card were shown. James McCarthy was lucky to get away with an uppercut early in the second half but escaped unnoticed. Nail Scully also received his marching orders with a black card.

“This is starting to be a regular pattern for the Dubs, and their discipline is being questioned. This did not happen in the previous years.”

Given the nature of the championship structures, it is likely that the two will cross paths for the fifth time in four championship seasons this summer. Mulligan believes Dublin won’t forget the night that Tyrone challenged them in more ways than run.

Tyrone, however, will be “waiting in the long grass”.

“A week is a very long time in football from the low in Galway to the high beating the All-Ireland champions. But I do get the feeling Dublin won’t forget the night the came to rainy, windy Omagh and were challenged in more ways than one. Tyrone will be waiting for them in the long grass.”

About Michael Corry

Sports Journalist based in Dublin. Hit me up if you have a unique story to tell. Email: michael@punditarena.com Twitter: @Corry_10 Instagram: @Corry_10