TYRONE will go top of the leaderboard in Division One with a win over Cavan on Sunday, but Peter Harte believes the battle for top-flight supremacy is only just beginning.
While the Red Hands are second only to Dublin and have a game in hand to boot, they’re also in the early throes of an exhausting run of fixtures.
Saturday night’s win over Monaghan was the first staging post in a run of five league matches in as many weeks, and the Errigal Ciaran player says it represents a stern examination of their physical and mental fortitude.
He said: “We’ve a couple of tough weeks ahead. When you play three Ulster teams in a row you have to be on your game because it’s going to be very physical and very competitive. Hopefully we get a few good performances over the next weeks.
“If you train on the pitch with [Tyrone’s strength and conditioning coach] Peter Donnelly and you do the training in the gym you’ll be in good enough shape. Any bit extra you do yourself might give you a mental edge. But if you stay on the pitch with Peter Donnelly you’ll not be too far away.”
Tyrone’s clash with Cavan was scheduled to take place a fortnight ago but was postponed as Healy Park was deemed unplayable after incessant rainfall. Reports of an ongoing expenses row haven’t helped matters either, but
Harte says the players’ concentration hasn’t wavered.
He said: “Maybe it was a bit of a nuisance but the weather’s just been terrible across Tyrone, it’s just one of those things you have to put up with.
“We’re building okay, the division one of the national league is a tough place to be and if you’re not on your game you’ll be found out very quickly.
“All we can concentrate over the next while is getting a few good performances and hopefully picking up a few points and getting up the table.”
He added: “Apart from that, I’ll leave the rest to everybody else.”
The 27-year-old has taken on a leadership mantle in a rejuvenated Tyrone side with ambitions of All-Ireland success. He doesn’t take his starting jersey for granted and is as encouraged as anyone by the form of Tyrone’s new players.
“The young boys are seriously pushing on, they’re getting game time and they’re making the most of that. Declan [McClure] and Padraig [Hampsey] are playing great stuff at the minute, hopefully that’ll continue, you need a strong panel being in Division One and hopefully everyone will keep pushing and stay fit.”
TYRONE manager Mickey Harte will give first championship starts to Padraig Hampsey, Kieran McGeary and Conal McCann in Sunday’s...