RAY Cosgrove believes that Tyrone will relish the opportunity to upset the applecart in tonight’s league clash against back-to-back All-Ireland winners Dublin.
Jim Gavin’s men are bidding to extend their remarkable unbeaten run to 31 league and championship matches against Tyrone, who have won only one of their last seven clashes against the Dubs.
Their current hot streak isn’t, however, without parallel in the world of Gaelic Football. Between October 14th 1928 and March 19th 1933, Kerry went unbeaten in league and championship football, a stretch that lasted 34 games.
Cosgrove, whose own playing career with Dublin stretched between 1999 and 2008 during a relative lean spell for the cosmopolitans, assures that Tyrone would delight in obliterating Dublin’s unbeaten run.
He said: “Tyrone and Dublin games have been very close over the past number of years. I envision Saturday night to be another close encounter. Tyrone are coming off the back of their sixth McKenna Cup in a row and a steady performance against Roscommon.
“I know they won’t say it out loud but Mickey and the lads would love to end Dublin’s winning streak. They definitely would have a smile on their faces leaving Croke Park.”
It was business for usual for the four-in-a-row Division One Championship as they held Cavan at arm’s length in their opening league assignment last Sunday. Ominously for the rest of us, a whole host of first-teamers are set to return over the coming weeks – Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Flynn, Bernard Brogan. It goes on.
He said: “I was impressed with the performance considering they hadn’t played as a unit all year. I think Jim and the management will be delighted with the victory. I was impressed with the conditioning of a lot of the players as well. They had a holiday in Jamaica but they didn’t look ring rusty by any stretch.”
Tyrone were talked up as the pretenders to Dublin’s throne in last year’s championship but they bowed out with a whimper at the quarter-final stage against Mayo. Cosgrove does, however, expect them to at retain their Ulster title at the very least.
“I went to the Ulster final last year. I’d heard a lot about Tyrone and I’d never been to an Ulster final before. To be honest I was a little bit disappointed with the game itself.
“The style of football didn’t entice me to go back. We can blame both teams [Tyroen and Donegal] and they’re a young team. I do believe they’re one of two or three teams that can win an All-Ireland this year.
“Ulster’s going to be tricky enough to get out off, but having seen Donegal and Monaghan at the weekend, Tyrone are firmly in the driving seat to retain Ulster.”
Cosgrove won an All-Star for his crowd-pleasing performances in 2002, finishing as top scorer in the championship with 6-23 to his name.
It all came crashing down in a career-defining missed free against Armagh in the All-Ireland semi-final and he was demoted to a secondary role for the rest of his Dublin career.
Yet there are few regrets and he recalls the respect afforded Tyrone’s triple All-Ireland winning side, who dumped Dublin out of the championship in 2005 and 2008.
“There’s a massive amount of respect for those Tyrone and Kerry teams, they were the kingpins, they set the benchmark back then. They were physically very strong and had some magnificent footballers, I don’t need to name them.
“Everyone knows how brilliant they were so we had total and utmost respect for them. They broke the stranglehold that Kerry and Armagh had in the early part of the decade.”
Posted: 8:56 am February 11, 2017
Tyrone have underlined their All Ireland credentials by crushing Down in Sunday's Ulster Championship Final