Owen Mulligan: If Tyrone don’t get in Dublin’s faces on Sunday they’re toast

Three time All Ireland winner Owen Mulligan on the intensity Tyrone must show to have any chance of being crowned All Ireland champions.


Tyrone can’t play like they did in last year’s semi-final against Dublin and expect to get a result.

We stood off them and gave them far too much respect. I’m not saying you go out there and hit a man or punch a man, but you must be in their faces if you want to win. Tyrone must meet Dublin head on.

Last year we went down with our tail between our legs for the semi-final.

Colly Cavanagh got a yellow card 27 minutes into the game last year – but it was 27 minutes too late!

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When I was playing, we always thought that Dublin were mentally weak, that they lacked backbone. If you silenced Hill 16 you could actually hear the supporters groaning and having a go at their side.

We had a few nasty boys who could get into their faces and pass remarks to make players doubt themselves. We had the men to mix it. You’re born with it – it’s in your genes.

Every Tyrone player will have to marshal his man on Sunday and let him know that this year, this Tyrone side, are up for the battle.

They have to get in Dublin’s faces and play with intensity. If Dublin build momentum in the opening 15 minutes and go two, three or four points up – Tyrone will make it very hard on themselves to get a result.

Nice footballers don’t win games. Are Tyrone missing some nasty boys? I’d say they have a few there if they need to call on them. They certainly could have done with them last year.

We have to stick to a game plan and push up on Dublin as we’re one of the few teams who can match their fitness levels. Their physique is phenomenal and that’s down to Peter Donnelly. Even though this Tyrone side are inexperienced at All Ireland level, they have triumphed through minor, U-21 and colleges level. They know how to win.

This Dublin side are at their most dangerous when they’re in trouble. They can get from one end of the field to the other and punish you. They’ve All Stars sitting on the bench waiting to come on. It’s unheard of. That’s why Sunday is such a big ask for Tyrone.

However, if Mickey Harte’s side can stay with the Capital until there’s 10 or 15 minutes to go, that’s when you will see a different Tyrone.

This All Ireland is there for the taking. There’s a chance to make history if this group of players can take it. Mayo went so close last year – going down by just a point. Dublin have to be beaten sometime – why can’t it be by Tyrone on Sunday?

We did our time – it’s time now for new heroes.

Mickey-Harte Inpho

The Mickey Harte factor ..

He’s the most stubborn man I’ve ever met. He’s tunnel vision to make you a better player and a better person and Tyrone the best county ever. I worked under him since I was 15. He mightn’t have made me a better person, but he made me a better player.

Mickey Harte is very good at reinventing himself.  I thought he would have gone by now – but his backroom staff have gone from 2003, 2005 and 2008.

He’s not afraid to make the big calls. He’s axed players that haven’t done the job for him – I should know I was one of them! He’s no loyalty to the players. It’s for the Tyrone team. That’s why he’s so good.

What’s Mickey Harte going to do without Tyrone football. He needs it as much as they need him. I know two years ago there was a mini-heave against him and now he’s won Ulster and is in an All-Ireland final for the first time in 10 years.

Mickey Harte will try to get into supporters’ heads too. Asking where’s the support, where’s the bunting – that’s him being cute to lift the supporters and to lift the players.

Even the TG4 documentary, Tir Eoghain: The Unbreakable Bond was shown last Sunday. That wasn’t due out for a couple of months. It wouldn’t surprise me if Mickey Harte hadn’t something to do with it been shown now. I watched it on the train and had a lump in my throat watching it.

You would like to think that Mickey Harte’s men have a Plan B this time compared to last year’s semi-final. I’ve been involved in teams when he’s pulled it out of the hat before. He’s a different animal in finals.

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What do you think?