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Time to stand tall

A LEGION of talking heads have chipped in with their take on how Tyrone should approach today’s All-Ireland final against Dublin; some of whom, admittedly, carrying a little more weight than others.

Jim McGuinness’ column in last week’s Irish Times has already passed into infamy for his suggestion that the Red Hands could bring 15 players back inside their ’45’ to counter Dublin’s attacking threat, with possibly farcical consequences.

But the majority aren’t subscribing to the McGuinness-patented handbook for overcoming Dublin. Instead the likes of Joe Brolly, Enda McGinley and Aidan O’Rourke are urging Tyrone to cast off the shackles and give ’em hell on Sunday.

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It’s white noise at this stage, and Mickey Harte is nothing but his own man anyway, but the country is crying out for a competitive contest regardless of Tyrone’s strategic approach.

While the Red Hands have hardly undergone a radical metamorphosis this season, subtle tweaks to the gameplan seem to be working, and it would possibly go down as the pre-eminent achievement in the history of  Tyrone GAA if the senior footballers spring an upset this Sunday.

Dublin boss Jim Gavin, a commercial pilot masquerading as a new-age guru with his wholesome commitment to Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation, is nonetheless at the helm of a cash-splashed machine who are unbeaten in 29 championship matches.

But we’re a bullish breed and the tens of thousands of Tyrone supporters – bandwagoners start your engines – set to descend on Croker are daring to dream of a famous victory.

There’s good reason for a dose of optimism anyway – Mickey Harte tends to have the midas touch whenever there’s a trophy up for grabs, and much has been made of his unblemished record in All-Ireland SFC finals in the lead up to Sunday’s match (psst, Jim Gavin has never lost on the big day either).

A preview on Sunday’s match would be incomplete without hushed reference to last year’s epochal All-Ireland semi-final defeat to the Dubs.

The Tyrone players have already tattooed over some of the scars with a more credible showing against Dublin in their ‘Super Eight’ clash last month.

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An All-Ireland final is a different proposition entirely – take a peek out the window and you’ll probably chance upon an assortment of bunting and flags – but the Dublin players are made of the same flesh and blood as the rest of us. Let’s hope Sunday afternoon reminds us of that – good luck one and all.

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