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'We Can Always Say 'Kerry Had To Bring A Tyrone Man Down''

(Left) Kevin Hughes during the 2003 All-Ireland Football Championship semi-final between Tyrone and Kerry; (Right) Paddy Tally, left, and head of athletic development Jason McGahan before the 2023 Munster Football Senior Championship semi-final match between Kerry and Tipperary. Pictures: Damien Eagers / SPORTSFILE and Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
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Kevin Hughes's first thought when he heard Paddy Tally would be joining the Kerry backroom team was 'Kerry's gain'.

Tally was the Tyrone trainer when the county won its first ever All-Ireland title in 2003, while Hughes was Man of the Match in the final against Armagh.

When Jack O'Connor named his Kerry backroom team in late 2021, following his appointment for his third term as Kingdom manager, Tally was a surprise inclusion. The Galbally man was hailed as a key factor in Kerry's defensive solidity as they won Sam Maguire in 2022.

20 April 2023; Manager Jack O'Connor, third from left, with selectors, from left, Micheál Quirke, Paddy Tally and Diarmuid Murphy during a Kerry football squad portrait session at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, Kerry. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

"You can see how it panned out for them," Hughes told the BBC's The GAA Social podcast.

"Obviously, there's that Tyrone and Kerry thing. You think, 'Paddy, what are you going down there for?' Listen, kudos to him, he went down there. There's also pride. With Jack O'Connor, we were a real thorn in his side in the noughties. Now we can always say 'Sure, look you had to bring a Tyrone man down, Jack'."

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Hughes said Tally was "exceptional, one of the best" during his time training Tyrone. That came to an end in 2004 following a fallout with Mickey Harte.

"What you're saying about him not getting big enough plaudits for what he's done, that would suit Paddy down to the ground because he's very humble," said Hughes.

"He goes about his business, knows his business exceptionally well. Before that [2003] All-Ireland, he knew when to train us full tilt, high intensity, and he knew when to taper it back a bit leading up to games.

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24 July 2022; Kerry coach Paddy Tally lifts the Sam Maguire Cup after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final match between Kerry and Galway at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"There was never a question of 'We're training too hard here' or 'We're not doing enough'. He just knew with that experience he had. Leading into that final, we were in tip-top shape.

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"His relationship with players as well was first class - for us and for Mickey. He would have been on that Tyrone team in '95 and '96. He was the same age as Cricko (Chis Lawn) and Peter (Canavan) playing. He had a good close relationship with players as well.

"Because he'd played for Tyrone and been there before, and with his job and experience, there was full trust in him from all the players and Mickey."

See Also: Peter Canavan Still Has Doubts About Mayo's All-Ireland Credentials Despite Kerry Win

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