Throughout Tyrone’s championship odysseys in recent summers, often the narrative of their playing style has come to the fore.
In 2019, there were clear efforts from Mickey Harte’s charges to play with a more direct approach. Criticisms of their approach from outside the camp has irked both the managers and players in the past, and Conor Meyler opined that some analysis was misguided.
“There’s this perception given about Tyrone sometimes, defensive football, but I’m yet to really see it myself to be honest,” he said.
“We get a lot of scores. Cathal [McShane], the top scorer in the championship this year. I’d say if you look across the board at our scores over the last number of years, we’re one of the highest-scoring teams.
“Along with that too, watching the All-Ireland final (between Kerry and Dublin), seeing two teams with 15 behind the ball at different stages as well, it’s maybe not brought up, but whenever it’s with Tyrone it always seems to be a thing.
“But people see what they want to see, and people hear what they want to hear. That seems to be the message that people take all the time.”
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Tyrone suffered two defeats of note this summer in semi-finals, in Ulster to Donegal and in the All-Ireland series to Kerry.
“I suppose the Donegal game and the Kerry game were two very different games,” Meyler said. “The Donegal game, tactically, we probably got it wrong. You have to put your hands up and say you were beaten by a better team on the day. I don’t think it was a reflection of the year. We probably weren’t that well prepared for the game.
“In terms of the Kerry game, again maybe we just got it wrong on the day as well. It was a good game of football, two teams were going out to score, attack.”
The Red Hands elected to kick more this season, and it wasn’t difficult to see why, as their inside forwards ran riot throughout the summer.
“We had two good target men in there, Cathal and Mattie [Donnelly],” Meyler explained. “Again, people who watch the game closely see that we kicked the ball an awful lot this year. That was probably our downfall against Donegal. We tried to kick it too much. We were looking too much for the kick, and got caught out because of that.
“We were attempting to play that open expansive football, but there is a balance. If you watch Dublin, you watch Kerry, Mayo, these teams that people talk about open, expansive football, and they all play at stages with everyone in their defence, and that’s just the way it goes.
“Any good system of play takes time.”
The Omagh man feels the squad are still well primed to make real progress in the coming years.
“You’ve a lot boys there probably in that prime age, 24-28 where we’ve been together now for a number of years, and we’d probably be disappointed if we don’t have a wee bit more success because we feel we have some excellent players and we’re in a prime position at the minute to do so,” he explained.