THE new season can’t come quickly enough for Tyrone midfielder and All Star nominee Emma Jane Gervin.
Tyrone open their Lidl National Football League Division Two campaign at Dunganny against Meath today and the Aodh Ruadh player admits that this is a massive season for the Red Hands.
Today marks the start of a fourth season in the second division and Gervin admits it’s about time they made a genuine promotion bid.
“We want to give the league a real rattle and want to go a step further in the senior championship,” she acknowledged.
“We are delighted to remain in the senior grade again and that’s certainly a bonus, but over the past couple of years we feel we have fallen short in the league. That’s down to us and we would ultimately like to be pushing for promotion by the end of the league.”
The 2019 league campaign saw Tyrone win just two games, drawing one, with four lost and while there was little in those defeats, promotions and relegations are all about results. Tyrone just did not deliver although there were some good performances.
At Garvaghey, they should have beaten Armagh, they were unlucky against Cavan, while in their best performance of the season they eased to a cracking win over Kerry at Coalisland. Those teams remain in the second tier, where they are joined by former Ulster kingpins Monaghan, who dropped through the trap door last year.
“We’ve had some great battles with the likes of Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal and Armagh this past two or three years and that will be no different this year,” Gervin added.
“There’s never much between us and that makes for very enjoyable games to be part of.”
While those other Ulster sides are perhaps in a form of transition, Gerry Moane’s squad remains very much intact and that’s a big boost ahead of the new season.
“It’s absolutely great to see that the majority of girls are still here,” confirmed last years vice-captain, who welcomes the fact that a handful of new players are staking a claim.
“There are a few new faces there to push us all on. I have to say though that there is a brilliant bond within this group of players, it makes playing county football all the more enjoyable.”
Teacher Emma-Jane, was unfortunate to miss out on an All Star last year – both herself and St Macartan’s defender Niamh McGirr were nominated. The Tyrone players though are not in the game for individual honours, the team ethic is instilled in them and Moane will once again carry a squad of over 30, supported by a development group made up of younger players who are the next generation set to come through.
With a new-look Ulster and All-Ireland series ahead for Gervin and Tyrone this summer, the focus for now is the league and the build-up has been excellent.
“It all has been very encouraging,” she observed. “A lot of hard work and miles have been put in which will hopefully stand to us this season.
“Training has been extremely competitive and I suppose that’s what you want in order for us to get the best out of each other… as well as that there is a good vibe and buzz about the camp and everyone can’t wait to get the season up and running.”
That season gets up and running at the Meath centre of excellence this weekend.
Meath need no introduction to Tyrone and vice versa. The Royals came up short against Moane’s side in the 2018 All-Ireland Intermedite decider and as Tyrone rolled into the senior ranks Meath returned to Croke Park last year, only to once again to fall in a final.
Gaining promotion from Division Three was a massive boost for Meath, but the big question is will they compete at this level?
“Meath are a great side, we know them well and this has the makings to be a good game of football,” Gervin added.