18 years ago today Tyrone took on Kerry in an All-Ireland semi-final with some similar themes to this weekend's game 1 year ago

18 years ago today Tyrone took on Kerry in an All-Ireland semi-final with some similar themes to this weekend's game

Hopefully it's not described as "puke football" this time.

August 24th 2003, Tyrone took on Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final, and much like this time around, the Ulster side were deemed to be the underdogs.


Also similar to this year's game, the Red Hands were under new management for the first time, as it was Micky Harte's first year in charge.

One person who will have been directly involved in both games is the new and current Tyrone boss, Brian Dooher, who also lined out that day in the half forward line.

A final, but loosely related omen, is the fact that Tyrone shocked everyone in that match, especially Kerry, with their dogged, ferocious work-rate, and sheer relentlessness to get every ball.

This time around, Tyrone have already shocked the GAA by requesting the game be postponed by two weeks, then pulling out off the competition entirely, when this request was not met.


Picture credit; Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE *EDI*

This, in turn, forced the GAA's hand to meet their demands, and a lot of people are angry and frustrated by this, not least Kerry.

Like in 2003, Tyrone had a siege mentality about them, a sheer defiance in character where they would only do what is best for their county, and not care what the others thought of them.


This is a trait clearly held by the modern team, who refused to budge in their demands, and now should have a full squad to select from to play The Kingdom.

18 years ago, Tyrone announced themselves as a new powerhouse in the GAA monopoly, that had already included Kerry and Armagh.

Unbelievably, they kept a Kerry side that boasted legends such as Colm Cooper, Tomás O'Se, and Eamonn Fitzmaurice, scoreless until the 24th minute, and held them to just two points at half-time.


Their talismanic player and captain Peter Canavan, had to come off injured in the 14th minute, but instead of stalling, they rose to the challenge and continued their barrage on everything that was green and gold.

The game eventually finished Tyrone 0-13 0-06 Kerry, although omens, and minor coincidences aside, things are very different this time around.

A David Clifford charged Kerry, already dismantled this Tyrone team, scoring six goals past them in the league, and continued that scintillating form all the way through the championship.

The Ulster side however, have chopped and changed their side a lot throughout the campaign, with the new managers trying to figure out their best team without the privilege of a pre-season due to COVID-19.

The virus has also took its toll on the team, and although they will be available for selection, it isn't yet known how their fitness and health will have been affected, since contracting the infection.


Times are a lot different now of course, but some things always remain the same, and the fierce rivalry of Kerry and Tyrone isn't going anywhere - that and Pat Spillane.

Hopefully he won't describe Saturday's game as "puke football," like he did in 2003.