Kyle Coney's story about Ronan McNamee's Tyrone debut reveals the measure of the man
"You're marking Paul Galvin today."
Kyle Coney's story about Ronan McNamee's championship debut for Tyrone tells you everything you need to know about the man.
Many were surprised to see that McNamee picked up Conor McManus in Tyrone's game against Monaghan as opposed to the captain Padraig Hampsey.
However, those from the county weren't shocked at all to see the tigerish defender pick up the main man, as he is one the best players in the team.
Despite winning an All-Star and an All-Ireland, the full-back doesn't seem to get the same recognition outside of Ulster, compared to other players.
Former Tyrone star Kyle Coney spoke in glowing terms of his old teammate on the latest episode of the GAA Hour podcast.
"From a Tyrone point of view, any time a team is named and McNamee is not on it, you're a whole lot weaker at the back. He's one of those players, and he'll not mind me saying - he's as fast as the player he's marking.
"That's just the way Ronan is, if he's marking a speed machine, there's a good chance he's keeping up with him, but if he's marking someone who is just not as quick, he can do that job as well.
"I've seen him pick up Aidan O'Shea a few times as well, and he can mix it up with that physicality as well. He probably doesn't get that appreciation outside of Tyrone that he deserves because he is a class player, and it's good to see him get his reward, he's soldiered a long time."
Coney was there back in 2012 when the now veteran defender was just a youngster, and made his championship debut for the county, and he wasn't exactly eased in.
"I remember him making his debut down in Killarney. He had broken his ankle and wasn't part of the team all season, and we landed down to Killarney to play Kerry in the last round of the qualifiers," said the Ardboe native.
"Mickey Harte called him in from the showers and says 'you're marking Paul Galvin today', and he had only trained once.
"He got a yellow card in the first few minutes, so that was his debut in a Tyrone shirt, and he had served Tyrone very well from then to now. "
It really highlights the respect that Harte must have had for McNamee, to throw him in for his championship debut against a Kerry legend in what was the biggest game of the season, and he had little to no training done.
Managers aren't normally as eager to throw unproven players straight into the deep end like that, especially with so much on the line.
What's particularly interesting about that tie, is that many regarded it as the end of an era for the Red Hand county - the last real hurrah from the players who won those three All-Irelands in the years previous.
Kerry got their long awaited revenge on the Ulster side, recording their first championship victory over them in over a decade, but the young defender provided hope for the future.
With number 25 on his back, the fresh faced youngster wasn't even slightly worried about getting stuck into the 2009 Player of the Year, and with just 17 minutes on the clock, the game had to be stopped because he decided to get into an off-the-ball altercation with the Kerryman.
Harte could see that new blood was needed and McNamee clearly proved him right, now into a decade of service for his county and an All-Star and All-Ireland medal in his back pocket.
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