The great thing about the National League is that the action is so fast-moving. There’s no time at all to dwell on the match just gone as the next one is coming down the traps rapidly. So, it’s already time to box away all thoughts about last Saturday night’s win over the Rossies and turn our focus instead to the Round 2 meeting with Tyrone.
This match takes place on Sunday up at Healy Park in Omagh, where throw-in is set for 2.30pm. Cavan’s Joe McQuillan – a ref we’ve had (for good and ill) many, many times down the years – has the whistle for this one.
We’ve significant history with Tyrone as well, of the positive and negative variety too. Our Championship record against them in recent years has been excellent but in the League they’ve had the upper hand.
While we did win up in Omagh the last time we played them there – two years ago – Tyrone have won four of the last five League clashes between us. They beat us twice during James Horan’s first stint in charge, by a point at MacHale Park in 2013 and then by four points the following year in Healy Park. They also beat us by four points at MacHale Park in 2015.
The most galling reversal we’ve suffered against them of late, though, was that embarrassing twelve-point thumping they handed out to us in Castlebar last year. We were worse than awful that day, losing both Cillian O’Connor and Lee Keegan to injuries as well as Colm Boyle on two yellows and Andy Moran on black before we’d even got to half-time. By the time we reached the break that day, Tyrone were all but out the gap and they won pulling up at the finish.
In retrospect, our respective performances that day provided broad hints about how the two counties would fare in the championship. While Tyrone failed to win Ulster they did regroup and make it all the way to the All-Ireland final. You don’t need reminding how our summer campaign ended up last year.
But that was then. Tyrone started this year brightly, winning the pre-season McKenna Cup earlier this month. This was their eighth McKenna Cup win in the last nine years and they beat Armagh by two points in a fiery decider, in front of over 11,000 punters at the Athletic Grounds. By coincidence, Joe McQuillan was also the ref that day.
Last Sunday, however, Mickey Harte’s charges came away empty-handed from the long trek down to Killarney. There they found the going difficult against Kerry’s tough-tackling young guns and only managed to bag a single point from play as they fell to an 0-11 to 0-7 defeat.
Despite this, the Red Hands are favoured by the bookies to make amends this coming Sunday. Paddy Power have priced Tyrone to continue their NFL hex over us – they’re strong 4/7 favourites to win.
Never mind the money men, though – what do you think? Will it be more Northern exposure for us in Omagh or will the positive start to the new James Horan era see us record two opening round wins in a row in the National League for the first time since 2012 ? It’s time to vote.
How will we do against Tyrone?
- Win (52%, 377 Votes)
- Lose (33%, 238 Votes)
- Draw (16%, 115 Votes)
Total Voters: 730