Brian Dooher thinks people have made ‘all a fuss’ about players leaving the Tyrone panel and insists they have a strong enough bench to compete for All-Ireland again.

When Paul Donaghy left the team at the end of March, he became the seventh player to leave the champions since winning the All-Ireland title last September.

However, joint boss Dooher claims too much has been made of it.

Read more: Fermanagh vs Tyrone LIVE as it happened in the Ulster Football Championship

Players have left for various reasons such as retirement, frustration with lack of playing time, work and family commitments and Dooher is confident they can be replaced.

“A lot of people have made a big deal out of it and I guess it’s disrespectful to the players who are there.

“We have great footballers there and they are going to have the chance to prove it now.

“Some had their chance against Fermanagh and did well and there are others behind.

“So I wouldn’t be too worried about that. It is what it is and we have, I think, a pretty good bench.

Dooher declined to comment on Conor McKenna’s late red card in Ulster’s preliminary round win on Saturday against Fermanagh. Tyrone will seek a personal audience for McKenna in a bid to clear him to play in the first-round clash against Derry on May 1.

Dooher expects Peter Harte and Richie Donnelly to return from injury for this match, but says it “will come too quickly for Mattie (Donnelly)”.

In 2006 Derry came to Omagh and beat Tyrone, then the reigning All-Ireland champion.

Dooher was Tyrone’s captain and admits memories of that day at Healy are “not great” with Derry holding Tyrone scoreless in the first half.

And he feels Derry, under Rory Gallagher, is much better now than he was when he got that shock result 16 years ago.

“It shows what Derry is capable of, and I would probably say they are a better team now. They definitely are.

Tyrone co-manager Brian Dooher

“They have good footballers and have been very impressive throughout the league.

“They were unlucky not to get a promotion. They were one of the in-form teams in the league and will pose a big challenge for us as they should be in the Premier League.

“We know what we are going to face. They will work hard, they will be fit and well organized.

“They have players from Glen and Slaughtneil available and have done well at minors level in recent years so no one should underestimate the quality of footballers in Derry.

“Derry is back up there at the top table. That’s how I see it anyway, and they deserve to be there.

“They will be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship, I have no doubt about that.”

Read more: Fermanagh vs Tyrone: player ratings from Saturday’s Ulster SFC clash

Read more: Conor McKenna red card: Feargal Logan confirms Tyrone star will seek hearing

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