A RETURN to National League action for Tyrone after the chaos of last week’s round two abandonment brings with it the tough challenge of putting points on the board against their old rivals from Monaghan this weekend.
It’s the start of a massive period of action for the Red Hands who are now relishing five high quality ties in the space of five weeks which begins with this Saturday’s clash against Monaghan. There will then be the refixture against Cavan, followed by games against Donegal, Mayo and Kerry.
An opening day win over Roscommon and the hard-earned draw against Dublin in Croke Park last time out saw the Ulster champions begin the campaign in positive fashion. But the postponement of last Sunday’s game against Cavan due to the waterlogged Healy Park means that there’s now no room for complacency as things reach a critical stage.
The Tyrone players only received confirmation at 1.45pm on Sunday afternoon that the game against Cavan wasn’t going ahead.
While they were forced to sit things out, Monaghan travelled to Killarney where they recorded an impressive away win against Kerry.
As a result, Malachy O’Rourke and his players are making the trip to Omagh in understandably buoyant form. The two counties have enjoyed a number of close contests during the past few years, with Monaghan having edged the last league meeting between them in 2015.
That tie and the All-Ireland quarter final clashes of 2013 and 2015 are both fresh in the memory of Red Hand full-back, Ronan McNamee. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s anticipating a full-blooded tussle.
“One bonus about not playing on Sunday was getting to watch some football for a change and Monaghan’s win over Kerry was definitely very impressive. We hadn’t looked past Cavan, so we weren’t thinking about this weekend’s game,” he said.
“Monaghan are now sitting on top of the pile in Division One and fair play to them for going to Kerry and getting something out of it. This is going to be vital to stay up toward the upper end of the table.
“They’re going well, coming off a very good result. The last time we played them in Omagh two years ago wasn’t pretty. None of the two teams have changed an awful lot since then and that was a Saturday night game as well.
“So it’s going to be a big game for us to keep the chase on. Things are very open in Division One at the moment. Dublin have drawn twice, Kerry have been beaten and Donegal as well. You can’t necessarily lift off on good form and then let things slip.”
TYRONE manager Mickey Harte will give first championship starts to Padraig Hampsey, Kieran McGeary and Conal McCann in Sunday’s...