Tyrone bid for good start against Rossies


Tyrone’s Peter Harte says a good start is key. MC 13

A TREBLE of high profile clashes for Tyrone in the Super Eights begins this weekend when Croke Park hosts their critical first Group Two clash against Roscommon.
It’s a potentially tough outing, but one that both the players, management and supporters will be targeting for victory. 
The prospect of meeting Dublin in Healy Park and then Donegal in Ballybofey means that a good start could well represent half the battle for the Red Hands as they bid to reach the All-Ireland semi-final for the fourth time in six years.
Both counties have met regularly in the championship during the past few seasons, with Tyrone winning at Dr Hyde Park and Croke Park. However, nothing is being taken for granted as they prepare for this latest meeting against familiar opponents.
Peter Harte’s return from the suspension which ruled him out of the Meath game a few weeks ago has boosted Tyrone. He, though, is remaining cautious about the prospect of the Connacht outfit at Croker.
The Errigal Ciaran clubman is also relishing the extra action that is being provided by the new All-Ireland Quarter Final format, Tyrone’s place having been secured thanks to their facile win over Cork at Portlaoise last weekend.
“It’s great to be in the Quarter Finals and when that happens the All-Ireland Qualifiers have definitely gone well. Maybe playing week after week suits us in Tyrone because we’re accustomed to it in club football and also in the National League.
“But the Super Eights is now definitely where the real tough stuff begins and we’re going to have to focus again on the game against Roscommon this weekend.
“The group that we’re in really couldn’t be any tougher. There’s two provincial champions there in Dublin and Donegal and Roscommon who looked to be every bit as good as a team that has just won their provincial title.
“I only saw a bit of their match against Armagh, but the support that they brought and the way that they played in the game shows us how good they are. They also ran Galway close in the Connacht final.
“We’re in with the best of the best now and it’s a case of having to perform from here on,” he added.
Despite expectations of a tough assignment, Cork’s challenge at Portlaoise certainly wasn’t one that really challenged the Red Hands from start to finish.
Nevertheless, Tyrone achieved their aim of reaching the Quarter Finals and can now look forward to what promises to be a bumper day’s football at Croke Park on Saturday.
“The game against Cork was tight up until half-time. But we knew that, like the previous week against Cavan, the first score of the second half was going to be crucial,” continued Peter Harte.
“We’ll just be looking forward to playing Roscommon and fulfilling our part of the day. If we can prepare well, then hopefully we can get a good start.
“Everybody, including the players, media and supporters are all going into the unknown over the next few weeks. So, we’ll just try and start off with a win. 
“I think the new format is definitely going to bring extra challenges for us. Obviously your squad is going to have a massive part to play. We used all 21 players against Cork and playing three games in as many weeks means that you’re going to pick up knocks and injuries.
“It means that you’re going to have to be using more and more players  which is going to test the panel and your resilience because in the middle of that you might lose or draw a match. The challenge then will be to bounce back the next week.
“As much as people maybe complain about things changing, we are looking forward to the Super Eights. Dublin in Healy Park is a game down the line, but we’re just thinking about Roscommon for now.
“Those types of games are the ones you dream about, and playing on the biggest stage is where we want to be. At the moment the Super Eights is the biggest stage and it’s up to us to try and perform and reach the All-Ireland semi-final.”
So, the stage is set for a new era in gaelic football and, while the Cork game last week was one-sided, Tyrone can expect to be challenged in style as they aim to confirm their status as Sam Maguire contenders. 

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