All-Ireland football final: Tyrone joint manager Feargal Logan chasing biggest prize of them all

By Kieran Cunningham

Going to Croke Park to battle against the odds is nothing new for Feargal Logan.

He knows parts of the place that many never see.

The windowless committee rooms where big decisions are made – he’s seen plenty of them.

That’s down to the interest he took in the GAA’s rule book, something that chimed with his day job as a solicitor.

It all meant Logan became a go-to man for many who were appealing suspensions. The toughness he showed during his playing days came through in those committee rooms.

Tomorrow, he’ll be back in Croke Park as Tyrone joint-manager alongside Brian Dooher.

If you believe the bookies, he’s battling against the odds again, but are Mayo really
favourites?

This seems like the hardest All-Ireland final to call since 2003. A good omen for Tyrone, since they beat Armagh that day.

It was the first time Tyrone had got their hands on Sam Maguire. They backed it up in 2005, backed it up again in 2008.

The landscape of Tyrone football was changed forever. The tradition and the work put in by those who came
before is a theme that Logan constantly returns to.

“That was a challenge for Brian and myself and, whatever happens, we still have a bit to go, to make sure that the standards didn’t drop and things didn’t go,’’ he said.

“There are counties, some not that terribly far away, where things can drop and, all of a sudden, it gets harder, once you go down a division, or two.

“It takes the full endeavour of every club, and everybody associated with Tyrone GAA, to keep it where it is. It attracts a bit of adverse comment at times but we just want to be as good as we can be.’’

Bring up joint managers and it’s impossible not to think of the disastrous Gerard
Houllier/Roy Evans experiment at Liverpool.

It lasted just a matter of months before Evans was shoved towards the exit door with Houllier taking complete control.

But Tyrone have never seen it that way. Long before Dooher and Logan, Art McRory (left) and Eugene McKenna worked well in tandem.

“Art and Eugene were a brilliant management. Art was a colossus of Tyrone football. Eugene was a colossus of a player,’’ said Logan.

“I’d still be in good touch with Art. The fundamental is this, and I mean it sincerely – it is a collective now.

“One, it is a fairly heavy shift and two, we do have fairly busy jobs, Brian and myself.

“But it is a group. A bit like Kieran McGeary’s speech after the Kerry game, we are here tonight and there are guys sitting at home analysing videos, the medics who are 24/7. It’s a collective.

“Management is overstated. You are as good as your players but you are also as good as the collective.

“Peter Canavan, Brian and myself managed the under-21s. I mean it sincerely when I say it didn’t cost me one iota of thought, really. Because as a team and a panel, you rise together and you fall together. So it doesn’t really matter.

“If Mickey Moynagh (long serving kitman) comes up with the best substitution, and I mean that with the greatest of respect, the longest and best servant of Tyrone football – if Mickey comes up with the winning formula, I am as happy as anybody.’’

Both this year and last,
Tyrone were adamant that they wouldn’t breach the Covid training ban. It meant the run-up to this season was very short – and it meant they were playing catch-up on some counties who trained away as normal.

“That is a debate for another day. I am not going to look into anyone else’s house. I am just concerned about here,’’ said Logan.

“Those are matters for other arenas and other days. My only concern is around here.

“We have had a short run at this. We sat tight, we came in two weeks before the League, we had a truncated League, then we went to Killarney and we got emptied out and then we started into the Championship very quickly,

“So it is the case that the team is developing and we hope it keeps on that trajectory and that the players are beginning to express themselves a bit better so, listen, long may that continue.

“We are blessed with the footballers we have in Tyrone but that is generations of endeavour, a deep-rooted tradition in Gaelic football, hurling and all things. We are still a wee bit to go but let’s hope we can build another block in the final.”


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