By Niall Gartland
HUGH Pat McGeary says that Tyrone are approaching the Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup final with renewed vigour after their dramatic late win over Kildare on Sunday.
The Red Hands snatched their first league victory when Mattie Donnelly kicked a point from the heavens deep into stoppage time at Newbridge.
It was a result that could have massive repercussions in the race for survival following bitterly disappointing defeats to Galway and Dublin in their opening two outings.
McGeary says the sense of despondency pervading the panel has completely lifted of Saturday evening’s McKenna Cup final against Donegal.
“Mickey (Harte) had us really focused on this game, to get us over the line, because we were really under pressure, having picked up no points.
“The mood now, compared to after the Galway game and the Dublin game, is the complete opposite. We’re buzzing, and hopefully we’ll carry that on to the next day.”
We can only surmise at this stage that Harte will name a second-string side to face Tir Chonaill with four critically important league fixtures in as many weeks coming down the pipeline.
That might affect McGeary’s chance of a first-team spot as he has had plenty of opportunities to impress so far this season, starting all three of Tyrone’s league fixtures to date in the corner-back position.
“The table is so tight, even from top to bottom, there’s very little between teams, so two points is massive. If both teams had come out with a draw, you still would have been iffy about the whole thing. So two points is huge for us.
“The pressure was on our shoulders, and look at the next few games, we’re looking at a lot of big, big teams. We knew we had to knuckle down, and we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game, especially down in Kildare. We knew our backs were going to be against the wall.
“Before the game, with the breeze, it just really depended on who got the breeze at the start. But luckily enough we worked it the way that we wanted to, and we marched on from there.”
So the cloud has lifted after a mixed start to the season and Tyrone will be quietly confident of clinching their seventh McKenna Cup title in a row this Saturday.
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