Lynch's memories of Tyrone v Armagh
Former Red Hand defender John Lynch explained the roots of his admiration for the Orchard county, but also why he fears that this rivalry, which is crucially important for the future of Ulster football, may be on the wane in the current edition of Gaelic Life. Read an extract:
RS: When you started off playing, what was your opinion of Armagh and Tyrone games?
JL: Where I lived it wasn’t a big deal to me, as opposed to those boys who lived around the Moy. I remember when I started and I gathered what the lads thought of Armagh, it was the same feeling that I would have had of Donegal. But for me it was never a big deal. It was just another game as far as I was concerned.
I was a fan of Armagh because they had been pushing away in the 70s and had been making in-roads into Championships, and got to the All-Ireland final in ‘77. It hasn’t changed, I would always have admired Armagh.
RS: How has the rivalry changed over time?
JL: Back in my time, in the ’80s, Armagh hadn’t as good a team, so we would have won more games that we would have lost games. But in recent times the two teams have been on a par. That was evident in the winning of All-Irelands. It is a better era for both team, but back in my day Tyrone had the better teams. We were winning more matches obviously.
RS: Were there any games that stood out particularly for you?
JL: The first time I met them was in 1980, in the Ulster final. That was our first year. Art took us over in 1980 and I don’t think he actually had us for National League. But that was Armagh with all their top players; Joe Kernan, coming off that phase they had in the ‘70s. We were just getting together at that stage. It was a building process for Art. If you move into the ‘80s and the Frank McGuigan final, that’s when the memories start [laughs].
The ‘84 Ulster final that Frank scored the 11 points, that’s one that never goes away. You just watched in amazement at that. Armagh tried three or four lads to mark him, but he was just impossible to mark. That was a big thing for us. Again, lads living in that part of the world, it was brilliant for them, but for me it was just another game.
RS: What was it that impressed you about Armagh. Why were they the team you liked?
JL: If I could pick a team out of Ulster, I would always have picked Armagh. Again, that was because, through the 70s when I was growing up and getting into Gaelic Football, Armagh was the team in Ulster. They might not have been the best team in Ulster, but they were the team that went to an All-Ireland final. I went to that match. I don’t really know what it was, but they always impressed me. I always like the players that they produced. [Ger] Houlihan was a great footballer. Then they had players like Geezer and Steven McDonnell coming in during the later years. Ronan Clarke as well. Them boys were all great footballers.
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published on Thursday June 7. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent or, for only 90p, purchase the online edition by clicking here