Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher bask in the glow of All-Ireland success

‘For the last two weeks, it was all consuming, consumed every waking minute’

Tyrone joint managers Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan lift the Sam Maguire cup. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Tyrone joint managers Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan lift the Sam Maguire cup. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

It must be a rare and special thing for joint managers to present themselves in the aftermath of an All-Ireland final victory, rarer still for them to have just pulled off such an unlikely title as this one.

In the sudden quietness after the frenzied evening that had unfolded out on the field of Croke Park, Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher also present themselves as a perfectly symmetrical picture of calm and relief and contentment, as well they might.

Tyrone do have a tradition here, Art McRory and Eugene McKenna serving as joint managers for many years, including in the All-Ireland final defeat to Dublin back in 1995, before Mickey Harte took over in 2003 and won the county’s first ever All-Ireland.

Dooher has been here before, winning captain in 2008, a three-time winner in all; Logan played midfield on that 1995 team that lost the All-Ireland, his progression into county management also coming on joint terms when he teamed up with Dooher to manage the Tyrone Under-21 team which won the All-Ireland in 2015.

“Pure relief is my first thought,” says Logan, “but I suppose it’s always that way after finals. Just pure relief that we got over the line, and the players dug in again with some great last ditch defending, and they came out of it as winners of the All-Ireland.

“So relief, and gladness that everything that has passed is passed now, and we’ve done the business on the football field here. So just delighted, and delighted to have Brian here at my side, and all the coaching that went on with Holmsey (Collie Holmes) Peter (Donnelly) and Joe (McMahon) are coaches and Des McGuinness. It’s just outstanding.

“That was all evident out there today.”

It’s put to Dooher too that, after all they’ve endured over the last month, relief must be the overriding feeling: a month ago they felt they had no option but to pull out of the championship, only now they’ve beaten the two teams they hadn’t beaten in 13 years in Kerry and Mayo.

“That’s one of way of putting it,” says Dooher.

“For the last two weeks, it was all consuming, consumed every waking minute. You don’t have much time for anything else to be honest.

“But that’s the position we put ourselves into, what we signed up for. It doesn’t always work out, and thankfully today it did work out for us, but you know, you have to give credit to the players. They went out there and performed, it mightn’t have been pretty at times, but they dug deep and put their bodies on the line.

“They’ve done it time and time again this year, we can’t ask any more of them, and that’s all we do ask of them.”

Once Cathal McShane and Darren McCurry palmed and fisted home their goal opportunities in the second half, the Ulster champions always had some daylight on Mayo, before leaving them to endure an 11th final loss since 1989.

“No goals, no goals! That was the big thing,” says Logan when asked what went through his mind as the clock ran down.

“There does come a tipping point in the line when you think ‘you know what, we might be home,’ but then you’re even afraid to think that, because we’ve all had our shocks in football matches. So no goals was the big thing, and just who was out on their feet, and had we anybody left to put in.

“So essentially that, and the same principles apply to all matches.”

Given his wealth of experience and lofty reputation in the legal practice of mediation - including in sporting disputes - it is little wonder Logan had slipped easily and well into the role of joint manager; he’d said at the outset too that new management often bring a fresh bounce. Some bounce!

“Right about that. My starting ambition anyway, without declaring to Brian, was to win one match. We managed to do that as Tyrone managers, and it just progressed from there. We’d no big plans or targets that way, we just mucked in night after night, and it was fairly up and down, but it’s ended happy in Tyrone, as All-Ireland champions, and players who have been battle hardened and committed their life cause to it, are outstanding footballers, and I’m so delighted they have All-Ireland medals as a player because it’s something special.”

Tyrone’s build up may have been low key compared to Mayo, still Logan sensed the excitement - and hope - building as Saturday approached.

“I think after a year and a half of a public health emergency, everyone was relieved to have something to get excited about, and obviously the Kerry game, that victory, when we were 6-1 in the bookies, that bought the excitement along. But it was a combination of things, the honest endeavour of the players, and when you mix it all together that’s what brought the excitement, the support we know in Tyrone do their bit, and we’re blessed to have a happy mix of people.”

This time last year, Logan was managing his club Stewartstown in the county intermediate final loss to Greencastle; on Saturday evening he jointly managed Tyrone to an All-Ireland senior title in his first season - and only the fourth ever in the history of the county.

Some bounce!

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