A RIVALRY re-ignited will see a Tyrone team aiming for a second consecutive All-Ireland Final look to re-establish their dominance over their Kingdom opponents.
Eleven years have now elapsed since the Red Hands last ousted Kerry in a big Croke Park game.
During the intervening period since that famous 2008 final, an All-Ireland Qualifier loss in 2012 and the 2015 defeat at the penultimate stage in the race for the Sam Maguire has been the lot of Mickey Harte and his players.
But now there’s a new energy attached to the hopes of both counties. While Tyrone are hoping to take one final step towards a fourth All-Ireland, Peter Keane and his young team aim to turn minor glory into tangible senior success.
Towering over the ambitions of both, of course, is the might of Dublin. Nevertheless, there will be absolutely no inferiority complex from whoever emerges from this latest intriguing encounter between the kings of the north and deep south.
This will be Mickey Harte’s 16th All-Ireland semi-final at club, Minor, U-21 and senior level. So far his record reads eight wins, five losses and a famous draw against Kerry in the 1997 All-Ireland Minor semi-final, a tie rated as one of the greatest ever.
However, as he enters this latest bid for an All-Ireland Final spot, he remains as determined as ever to make the most of this golden opportunity.
“It is not easy to get to All-Ireland semi-finals and I’ve been blessed to have reached a number of them. You have to appreciate them because there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever reach another,” he said.
“We have poor outcomes in a number of those matches, so we know what it’s like to win and lose at that stage. Winning is a much better place to be.
“Teams that lose in semi-finals are nowhere, while whoever wins is going to be part of the biggest occasion in the GAA world. There were times when we were close to have made the final and it’s good that last year we made the breakthrough again after a number of defeats.
“The experience of having been in an All-Ireland Final is good in two ways for players, in that they know what it’s like and how good it is to be there. So that should give them an extra desire to get back there again.
“Semi-finals are a nice, but they’re only of real value if you go on and reach the final again. That is the big challenge which is front of us.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD