How Healy Park's toilets played a crucial role in Tyrone's win over Kerry 2 weeks ago

How Healy Park's toilets played a crucial role in Tyrone's win over Kerry

There is perhaps no sanctuary more sacred than the jacks.

There are few places in this world where fully grown adults feel it is appropriate to open up and talk about their feelings to another fully grown adult.


The barbers is one, as you feel lighter offloading your woes while getting your ears lowered, and for some strange reason, the toilets at a GAA ground is another.

Whether you're a farmer, accountant, lawyer, businessman, or whatever, for 70-odd minutes on a Sunday, you are all just GAA fans following your county.

With a backdrop of flushing loos, blaring hand dryers and turning taps, the walls of the lavatories are echoed with confessions of fear, anxiety and worry, as collective hearts flutter at the prospect of watching your beloved team lose that day.

Tyrone Healy Park


Tyrone were not in a good place when the All-Ireland champions came to town. They were leaking goals and losing matches, and their confidence was more shaken than a James Bond martini.

However, the Red Hand county is famed for its unique ability to perform when their backs are against the wall, and fans like me - although publicly very pessimistic - knew that Sunday could very well be a special day.

The Guinness in Healy Park was top notch, so that was a good start, especially as it helps settle the nerves and loosens the tongue, as you start to vent your frustrations about team selection, referees, and generally anything with your fellow county men and women.

After a quick trip to the aforementioned loo, where you suddenly feel better hearing other strangers share your concerns, it was time to take your seat and watch the action unfold.


Tyrone Healy Park

Sitting directly in view of the Kerry warm-up, eyes were drawn to David Clifford, as we scanned the visible parts of his anatomy just to remind ourselves that he is indeed human, and not some point-scoring machine sent from the future.

The game was thrown in, and within minutes Sean O'Shea danced through the Tyrone defence to score a goal. Suddenly Healy Park was silenced apart from the collective slap of eyes rolling to the heavens, and grumbles of "here we go again".

Darren McCurry lifted the crowd though when he spotted Conn Kilpatrick in the square towering over his marker, and attempted an inventive pass that very nearly worked out as a goal.


The intuition, creativity and bravery to attempt it was enough to bolster the crowd, as things looked like they were starting to finally happen.

Tyrone Healy Park

Brian Kennedy's determination was rewarded when he punched the ball from Shane Ryan's hands into the back of the net in a crazy but most welcome goal.

A split second of bemusement was quickly followed by a roar of delirium. Suddenly we were back in this, and if something as bizarre as that goal can occur, then who knows what could happen here?

Mattie Donnelly was leading the Tyrone charge, playing like a man who had previously been dropped from the team (probably because he had previously been dropped from the team), but still, with no time to sulk about the past there was an opportunity to be seized here and he made sure to snatch it.


Defensively the Ulster side were well organised with Cormac Monroe moved to six and Padraig Hampsey at three, tasked to look after a certain Clifford sibling.

Tyrone Healy Park

The team captain was playing brilliantly against the sharp shooter, but fear soon came rising to the surface of the stadium when the Kerry star picked up the ball in an area that managers like to refer to as "outside the shooting zone".

You could forgive us for assuming that the posts were safe from being penetrated, but the element of surprise was accompanied with talent, as Clifford's ridiculous effort sailed over the bar.

So ludicrous was the score, that Frank Burns could only shake his head and laugh. However, that didn't mean that a lesson wouldn't be learnt here.

With everything square at half time, another Guinness was guzzled, a quick therapy session in the toilets was topped up, and we ran back to our seats allowing ourselves to dream, even if just for a while.

Tyrone Healy Park

We were treated to a good start as Errigal Ciaran's newest prospect Joe Oguz kicked two fine scores, and we watched in glee as red and white jerseys swarmed everything in green and gold, reminding us all of historic matches gone by.

As our moods brightened, the skies began to darken and rain threatened to start, something which I casually remarked before being met with an excited response of: "Good, rain would be perfect."

There it was, the most Tyrone thing I had ever heard - welcoming an onslaught of bad weather to help the team make this match as horrible, unwelcoming and hostile as possible for our Munster visitors.

Despite a second goal from the opposition, the once shaken confidence was now cemented in; we had already made the decision that this was going to be our day and the team had clearly made that decision too.

Tyrone Healy Park

Darragh Canavan's moment of magic when he sold his marker with a bit of soccer skill before chipping the ball up, sprinting towards the post and fisting it over, reminded everyone at the ground that we should never be too worried - we have another Canavan after all (and another one ready to come off the bench).

Burns then remembered the Clifford lesson from earlier and put in a heroic block to stop the greatest player in the game right in his tracks.

When McCurry's number came up on the board to announce his substitution, he was met with rapturous applause, a genuine show of appreciation for all of his hard work. Harmony between fans and players had been restored.

The noise only got louder when we saw it was Ruairi Canavan who was coming on - the most exciting thing to come out of the county since Cookstown's sausages.

Tyrone Healy Park

Never worrying about his young age, he immediately took over the free-taking duties, and when he scored his second to put us three points clear, the full-time whistle was blown, and that rainy cloud was lifted (both literally and figuratively).

Familiar feelings of delight, relief and pride came flooding back as the players reminded us all why we love following this team.

The third - and sweetest - Guinness was quickly consumed, and that last "just in case" trip to the toilets was the most enjoyable, as it took every sanitary sense in your body to not hug every fellow Tyrone fan in sight.

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