Kieran McGeary: 'You see a fire, you put it out'
By John Harrington
Tyrone vice-captain, Kieran McGeary, does so many good things in so many different areas of the pitch, that trying to define exactly what his role is can be tricky.
Luckily, McGeary himself has the perfect summation of his job spec. “You see a fire, you put it out,” says the Tyrone vice-captain emphatically.
Such is the enthusiasm with which the Pomeroy man extinguishes blazes on the pitch, maybe he should strap a flashing red light to his head for the All-Ireland Final.
His heat-map for the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry would have surely covered most of the pitch because he popped up everywhere. And, whether it was in defence or attack, his contributions were usually telling ones.
He’s currently the player in pole position to be crowned Footballer of the Year if Tyrone defeat Mayo in Saturday’s All-Ireland Final, but that’s not something that’s exercising his mind to much ahead of the game.
“I heard that the other day, someone said it to me,” said McGeary. “Genuinely speaking, if it comes 100 per cent fantastic, but it won’t distract me from my game, I don’t look into it at all, I don’t speak about it at all.
“You can get very easily carried away and two weeks down the line I don’t want to be sitting at the kitchen table thinking where was my head at?”
It would be very interesting to know how many kilometres McGeary's GPS clocked up in the All-Ireland semi-final win over Kerry, but he claims not to know.
Most players have a few Key Performance Indicators they want to hit every time they go out to play, but McGeary prefers to go with his gut rather than over-analyse his game.
“I'm honestly not big on that,” he says. “Collectively we have targets like very team has targets. But I'm not a big person to look into individual targets. I'm more off the cuff, live in the moment, make the best decision for the team type thing. Work hard. I suppose that's just driven from our coaching and our management.
“I've been in the team a few years and after every season there's always a couple of nights you'd be thinking, 'God, I should have done better there, I could have done this, next year I'll definitely do that'.
“When you reflect enough on it when you're sitting at home during the good time of the season where you wish you were playing, that's where you figure out what you should be doing for next year.”
When you watch McGeary play, it’s easy to be reminded of current Tyrone joint-manager, Brian Dooher, in his pomp.
Like Dooher, McGeary is a half-forward with an insatiable appetite for work who is just as comfortable doing the dirty work of tackling and forcing turnovers as he is splitting defences open with lancing runs from deep.
Considering all Dooher achieved for Tyrone in his playing days, it's no surprise to hear that McGeary is happy with the comparison.
“Yeah, totally. Totally. But I suppose that's just when people have pulled on the Tyrone jersey in the past and they've done the business in the big days, you remember that as a child.
“Therefore it echoes in your own performance, or you try to make it echo in your own performance by showing the intensity he did and showing the passion that he did.”
There will be no shortage of intensity and passion on the pitch this Saturday because they’re two qualities both Tyrone and Mayo trade heavily on.
Both like to make a statement in the middle third of the pitch by dominating the collisions, tackling like maniacs, and forcing turnovers.
This is McGeary’s own battle-ground every day he plays, and he’s keenly aware that whoever wins it on Saturday will likely go home with the Sam Maguire Cup.
“Yeah, it’s massive,” says McGeary. “That will be something we'll look at. But, again, you can do tactics until you're blue in the face, Mayo's going to bring intensity. It's a huge part of why they're there and that just shows the passion and hunger they have to be in an All-Ireland Final.
“So we'll have to get that sorted. If we can match half of what they can bring, we'll not be doing too bad.”