We had to win – Hampsey

Donegal’s Martin McElhinney looks to shake off Padraig Hampsey and Frank Burns at Healy Park.

TWO more vital points on the Division One table eased Tyrone’s relegation worries as they prepare for a brace of high profile clashes when their campaign reaches its climax in the next few weeks.

Key defender and Coalisland clubman Padraig Hampsey said the entire team was “well aware” of the importance of Saturday night’s clash against Donegal.

Now Tyrone are preparing for another crucial game away to Mayo next weekend before the high profile home clash against Kerry in round seven back at Healy Park.

It makes for an exciting finale and reinforces the importance of Tyrone’s victory over Donegal.

“Every win is important, but we were sitting on two points and just knew that a win had to be achieved against Donegal,” said Padraig.

“That was especially the case with home advantage and thankfully the players stuck together and came away with the points.”

“You have to lay down a marker with your home matches,” added Padraig. “We went six points ahead and then Donegal got their goal. But fair play to everybody for weathering that storm and then putting the game to bed.

“The lads managed to find that little bit extra for the closing stages, the defence kept firm and the forwards got a few scores to settle things again. Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan were brilliant on the free kicks and did the business.

“But it’s all about taking things one game at a time and obviously Mayo next weekend is going to be another big clash.

“Tyrone always get it tough against them because they’re such a good side.”

Padraig Hampsey has developed into an integral part of the Red Hand rearguard since breaking into the first 15 thanks to a number of high class displays in 2017.

Padraig’s growing reputation was further enhanced by his fine display against Michael Murphy on Saturday night.

The Fianna man was given the task of man-marking the Donegal dangerman, and he was reasonably satisfied with how things had gone.

“It’s always tough because Michael Murphy is an exceptional player. He’s always looking for the ball and moving around so as a defender you have to try and stay tight to him.”

Padriag says the Red Hands must now look forward and focus on “each game as they come.”

“We’ve got Mayo coming up next weekend and that has to get our full attention. Saturday night’s performance was an improvement, even though I thought we’d been playing fairly well beforehand – despite the criticism.

“Overall it was a good win and hopefully we’ll carry that performance into next week as well.”

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