Saturday 25 November 2017

Tyrone boss Feargal Logan denied entry to Tipperary dressing-room over 'cynicism'

Tyrone 1-11 Tipperary 0-13 Eirgrid U-21 Football Final

Tyrone manager Feargal Logan celebrates with his side after winning the EirGrid U21 football title against Tipperary
Tyrone manager Feargal Logan celebrates with his side after winning the EirGrid U21 football title against Tipperary
Tyrone's Frank Burns keeps possession under pressure from Cathal Luke Bolland, Tipperary
Tyrone's Mark Bradley holds off a challenge from Colm O'Shaughnessy
Tipperary's Stephen O'Brien in action against Cathal McShane and Daniel McNulty, Tyrone
A dejected Josh Keane, Tipperary at the final whistle
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Feargal Logan was at pains to point out that he didn't want a fuss.

But inevitably the narrative of this All-Ireland U-21 football final is drawn to a door closed in the face of the Tyrone manager as he sought to address the vanquished Tipperary team in their moments of despair afterwards.

A long-standing tradition prompted a diplomatic incident as he was refused entry to deliver his words of consolation.

According to Logan, based on the discussions he had with Tipperary officials outside afterwards, they had been unhappy with Tyrone's approach, the suggestion of cynicism and excessive verbal engagement hanging in the air.

"I think they've gone a bit extreme. It's obviously raw at the moment. But I hope relations between Tyrone and Tipperary football don't get to that pitch when we have guys putting people out of dressing-rooms," he said.

"They felt we coached a certain way, that's their prerogative, let them have their thoughts. But I spoke to the chairman, I said I was very disappointed."

Logan was adamant that at no stage were they given instructions to be cynical or to verbally engage with an opponent.

"I can promise you this, I have told our men never to 'sledge' or talk to people. I have told them not to conduct themselves cynically. There were boys there buying frees on both sides there today probably and I am just very disappointed that in the GAA world something like that would happen.

"I don't want to make a major fuss because I have been the subject of major fusses this last week or two.

"Not often it happens in Gaelic football but I am not making a deal, I thought it was a sporting game of football, maybe others see different. It's a sore thing to lose an All-Ireland final," said Logan, pointing out that he had lost two himself with Tyrone and Stewartstown Harps


His opposite number Tommy Toomey suggested that Tipperary football in general needed to develop a more cynical streak.

"There's a lot of stuff often goes on in these games that Tipperary have to learn and I think we will over the period," he said.

Toomey was not in the dressing-room when Logan sought to make an entry and the pair did exchange a friendly word out on the pitch after it had happened.

The Tipperary manager admitted they had anticipated 'verbals' from their opponents.

"We knew what we were coming into. We had the boys well versed about what to expect verbally and not to react. I thought we dealt with it well. Again, it's part and parcel of the type of football we had to go out and play against," he said.

"I give great credit to Tyrone on the way they play football. They're a fine football team and I don't really believe that they should be going at that stuff.

"But that's how they do it. They're happy with it. I think they're better playing football. That was a very good game, if you take all those little bits and pieces out of it."

Toomey was also dissatisfied that referee Fergal Kelly had not given Tipp a free in the last passage of play for an incident that led to Tyrone's Michael Cassidy being sent off for a second yellow card.

"A man being sent off for hitting a fella and he continues to give a free out? I just don't understand that. I thought we deserved a draw out of it," said Toomey.

For both men the emergency incidents in the stand at half-time will offer plenty of perspective for the days ahead. Logan's brother Michael, the Tyrone team doctor, went to the aid of a Tyrone supporter and helped to resuscitate him after he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Logan had been agonising inside over a first-half performance that he felt had not shown his Tyrone team in their true colours.

"When I heard that I said, 'listen Feargal, catch yourself on, football is not that important'."

Both men were right about one thing: it was a superb contest played in dreadful conditions.

Tipp's inference of cynicism wasn't backed up with any imbalance in the free count, 21 each, with Tyrone only 'catching up' in the closing 10 minutes as they ruthlessly battened down the hatches to protect their lead.

In time Tipp might reflect on their refusal to entertain Logan - renowned as a sincere figure in the game - as a rash decision. They will need to grow a thicker skin, as Toomey suggests.

Tipp were also lucky that Steven O'Brien stayed on the field as referee Kelly didn't notice his bad challenge on Cathal McShane. But visual evidence of 'verbals' - as Tipperary referred to - were prevalent throughout, one second-half incident on the dug-out side standing out.

Tyrone had kicked 10 wides with the backing of the wind and trailed by 0-7 to 0-5 to more economic opponents, who profited from the accurate long-range kicking of Ian Fahey, Bill Maher and Josh Keane.

Keane did a miss a close-range effort from right in front of the goals but at the interval it was Tipperary who had all the momentum.

Still, through Frank Burns, their outstanding captain Kieran McGeary, Conor Meyler, Cassidy and Mark Kavanagh they had players always probing.

The introduction of Ruairi McGlone and centre-back Ruairi Brennan's ability to turn over possession gradually brought them back as they opted to move ball short and smart against the wind.

The break from Tyrone came when Kavanagh found a rare break through the Tipp defence and placed the increasingly influential McShane for the only goal on 46 minutes for a 1-9 to 0-10 lead. In a game of this nature, it amounted to significant daylight.

Tyrone consolidated and were three points clear before Tipp's captain lion-hearted captain Colin O'Riordan almost single-handedly launched an offensive with two superb late points from distance, one from a free.

Tyrone had tracked O'Riordan efficiently all night and the fact that he was fouled himself for seven frees tells its own story about where priorities lay. It was a case of stopping his momentum at all costs.

Logan admitted that the break may not have suited Tipperary and gave his team a chance to show their true colours and land a fifth All-Ireland U-21 title, a first in 14 years.

"The real characteristics came out in the second half and I am just glad, because to leave an All-Ireland final without having shown your worth, never mind winning, is devastating," he said.

"I thought it was proper Tyrone football in the second half. We were nervous and edgy in the first half, some of the decision making, some of the wides were horrible, and weren't characteristic of this team."

Rumours of Tyrone's football's demise do indeed appear a little exaggerated.

Scorers - Tyrone: C McShane 1-0, D McNulty 0-3 (2fs), M Kavanagh, M Bradley, L Brennan (2fs) 0-2 each, C Meyler, M Cassidy 0-1 each. Tipperary: K O'Halloran 0-6 (5fs), J Keane 0-3 (1f), C O'Riordan 0-2 (1f), B Maher, I Fahey 0-1 each.

Tyrone - S Fox; R Mullan, P Hampsey, C McLaughlin; M Cassidy, R Brennan, K McGeary; C McShane, D McNulty; M Kavanagh, C Meyler, M Walsh; L Brennan, F Burns, M Bradley. Subs: R McGlone for Walsh (h-t), R Kelly for McShane (59), P McKenna for Brennan (62).

Tipperary - E Comerford; K Fahey, J Feehan, C O'Shaughnessy; R Mulcahy, L Boland, B Maher; S O'Brien, C O'Riordan; J Lonergan, I Fahey, L Casey; K O'Halloran, J Keane, P Maher. Sub: J McGrath for P Maher (53).

Ref - F Kelly (Longford)

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