REDEMPTION through the backdoor is now the last remaining option for Tyrone’s championship ambitions following their surprise Ulster exit at the weekend.
It’s a familiar route for the Red Hands, but somehow 2018 looks set to be different. The Super 8s in the All-Ireland Quarter Finals has cast an air of uncertainty over the potential prospects of first round losers.
No-one knows what the coming two months will hold for Tyrone, Mayo or any of the other counties already in the Qualifiers.
Perhaps their journey to the last eight will prove straightforward, or perhaps it won’t.
Whatever happens, the nature of Tyrone’s 1-18 to 1-16 defeat by Monaghan has cast doubts over their credentials.
It’s a situation which Mickey Harte and the players will be keen to address as they await the first Qualifier draw on Monday morning. All will be hoping to avoid any tricky away assignments, not least a trip to Castlebar to take on Mayo.
Team captain, Mattie Donnelly, was understandably bitterly disappointed at how things finished up at Healy Park.
Instead of preparing to face a Fermanagh team including his cousin, Eoin Donnelly, he’s aiming to spearhead Tyrone’s revival in the aftermath of seeing their provincial treble hopes being dashed.
“We had fully intended to be going for a third Ulster title in a row, so to lose here is very disappointing indeed. Unfortunately, that’s not on the cards any more and we’re gutted,” said the Trillick clubman.
“The two periods just before half-time and then at the start of the second half proved to be massively crucial at the end.
“We got ourselves into a good position at both those periods of the game.
“It would have been good to be two points up just before half-time, but then there was the sucker punch of the goal.
“They had a good start to the second half and that was reeled back in. Then, they finished more strongly, which was very disappointing as well.
“Colm Cavanagh and Tiarnan McCann having to go off was a big blow as well. The two of them have been there and done that and you need all the experience you can get in games like these.”
“Obviously, there might have been doubts over their fitness and involvement in the lead-up to the game, but you need lads like that to be on the pitch as well.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD