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'The narrative among some journalists last year was that we won by fluke. We don't believe that'

Niall Morgan and Tyrone are looking to bounce back from their disappointing Ulster championship exit.

Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan has been named the Gaelic Writers’ Association Football Personality of the Year.
Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan has been named the Gaelic Writers’ Association Football Personality of the Year.
Image: Piaras Ó Mídheach/SPORTSFILE

Updated May 14th 2022, 1:18 PM

TYRONE GOALKEEPER NIALL Morgan says the reigning All-Ireland champions want to “prove” themselves as they look to rebound from a premature Ulster championship exit.

The Red Hand crashed out after a 1-18 to 0-10 quarter-final defeat to Derry earlier this month, and are now facing into the qualifiers.

2021 All-Star Morgan is confident there will be a positive reaction after the disappointing loss at Healy Park.

“After we won last year we obviously didn’t take anybody for granted, but you sort of get that taste of success and you think it’s going to happen again,” he said as he was named Gaelic Writers’ Association Gaelic Football Personality of the Year.

“I suppose a bit like before that, whenever we weren’t winning you sort of think, ‘Are we going to have another year like that?’

“Derry had a game-plan for us, they’ve been working on the same game-plan the whole way through the year and it worked for them. It wasn’t a surprise to us how they played, we knew how they were going to play, we just couldn’t counteract it on the day.

“Unfortunately sometimes you have to admit that the better team won and we’ll have to work to figure out ways to play against that because there are going to be other teams who will play a similar way against us as well so it’s up to us to put our heads together and figure out where we’re going wrong and how we’re going to fix it.”

Asked what the chat has been like among the Tyrone players since, Morgan continued:

“I know the narrative among some journalists last year was that we won by fluke. We don’t believe that. Personally I don’t believe in luck at all, I believe you get what you deserve and you get what you work for.

“Going back to Derry, they worked hard and deserved their win and there was no luck involved and we would say the same about last year. That we worked hard and we got the rewards for what we done.

tyrone-players-during-the-teams-parade Tyrone were beaten by Derry in the Ulster quarter-final. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

“We’re just going to have to work a bit harder in terms of our training and in terms of our application and what we’re doing skills-wise. We need to return a wee bit to the basics and get them sorted because our kick-passing and fist-passing and shot-selection has been what’s letting us down this year. if you return to looking after that side of things you’re going to reap the rewards of it.”

Many involved in Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher’s set-up have pointed to the infamous 6-15 to 1-14 league semi-final trouncing to Kerry as a turning point last year.

That disappointment focused the minds and they drove on from there.

Morgan says similar “frank discussions” about aims for the year have been held in the wake of the Derry defeat.

“It might not just work the same way because we had a bit of a surprise factor coming off that loss against Kerry last year whereas now we still have the target on our back and everyone wants to take us out because we’re reigning champions.

“I know we’re out of Ulster now, Derry have that accolade going into their semi-final this weekend. Whoever comes up against us in the All-Ireland series will be looking to do the same.”

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niall-morgan-celebrate-with-his-son-criostai Morgan with his son, Criostai, after last year's All-Ireland win. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“You want to prove yourself,” he added. “Because if you do go and get beat in the next game it almost proves some people right in that we were lucky as they saw last year. That narrative could then start to run away with itself.

“Whereas if we can get back on track, that to me would take a bit of pressure off, knowing that we can perform and we can continue down the right path. I’m not saying we’re going to do back-to-backs, but we have to show improvement and we have to show we’re going in the right direction. The only way to show that is by winning games.”

There has been “a great reaction” and positivity in training anyway, and the Edendork clubman is confident that will follow through in the white-heat of battle.

“Everybody is looking forward to our next match, getting back on the pitch and trying to right the wrongs.

“There’s no guarantee that it will definitely happen, but everyone is putting their shoulder to the wheel. And if there’s one thing you can dictate it’s how hard you work. Against Derry we didn’t work hard enough, we were out-worked all over the pitch and that’s why they got their victory. That’s an easy one for us to set straight, by going out and trying our best and working hard. If that’s not good enough on the day, so be it.”

Morgan is looking forward to the semi-final meeting of Derry and Monaghan in the Athletic Grounds tomorrow, with the winners doing battle with Donegal as Tyrone relinquish the Anglo Celt Cup.

“As much as you don’t like losing it’s great to be part of a competitive championship and it only makes us better being a part of it rather than getting a handy route through,” he concluded.

Tyrone’s Niall Morgan has been honoured as the Gaelic Writers’ Association Gaelic Football Personality of the Year. The Awards, which took place last night, are this year supported by Wilson Hartnell.

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