Okay, it’s Tuesday so it’s definitely time to turn our gaze towards our next assignment in this National League Division One campaign. This comes in the form of a Round 6 meeting with Tyrone on Saturday evening at Healy Park in Omagh. Our renewal of acquaintances with our All-Ireland conquerors throws in at 5.45pm that evening, the match is being shown live on RTÉ2 and Maurice Deegan from Laois is the ref.
Because we met them as recently as last September, there’s no need to go back over what they were up to in 2021 as I did a piece on all that prior to last year’s All-Ireland final. That’s here.
Looking back at that piece, the most salient point to note is perhaps the one relating to our League meetings, where Tyrone hold a narrow advantage over us, having won 12 times to our 11. A further six League meetings between us have ended in draws.
What’s more relevant from past meetings between us, however, is what’s occurred the last two times we’ve played each other because this shows we now have significant beef with the O’Neill County. The most recent time we met them in the League – at MacHale Park in October 2020 – they relegated us. And nobody needs any reminding about what occurred the last time we met in the Championship.
All of which means we’ll head to Healy Park the next evening with a significant score to settle. They, of course, will be able to point to our good recent record against them at the venue, where we’ve won the last two times we played there, to whet their appetite for a win this time out. That and their dire need of a win, in light of their very real relegation concerns.
Those worries stem directly from their underwhelming Division One campaign so far this year. It’s one in which they’ve won once, drawn once and lost three times.
The draw came in the opening round on the same afternoon that we salvaged that late, late stalemate against Donegal at Markievicz Park. It was wet and windy in Sligo that day and up the road in Omagh it was no better, which helps explain the final score of nine points apiece in Tyrone’s match against Monaghan. Conor McManus bagged the final score of the day to draw the Farneymen level but they missed a late opportunity to bag the winner against the All-Ireland champions.
Tyrone’s first defeat of the year came in the next round. Armagh beat them by two clear goals at the Athletic Grounds, winning by 2-14 to 0-14, but that one is best remembered for the flurry of red cards dished out close to the end by ref David Gough, following a protracted brawl involving most of the two teams. What was noteworthy about the punishment meted out by the Meath ref was that four Tyrone players saw red while only one Armagh player did.
Tyrone failed to overturn any of those red cards and so they were severely weakened when facing Kildare at Omagh in Round 3. The Lilies should have beaten them too and led by four points at half-time but they spurned several glorious scoring chances in the second half, including a gilt-edged goal opportunity for Daniel Flynn just before the end, as Tyrone – who bagged two second half goals – somehow eked out a 2-7 to 0-12 win.
Two defeats followed for the Red Hands, though, as Donegal, out of sorts early on, got the better of them at Ballybofey in Round 4, winning by 2-10 to 0-12. Last Sunday, back at Healy Park, Tyrone lost for the second successive time as Dublin finally got off the mark in this year’s League, beating the home team at their ease by 0-13 to 0-8.
This means that Tyrone head into the weekend in serious relegation trouble. Not only do they have to get a result against us, they then have to travel to Kerry in the final round and while one win from those two games might be enough to save them, it might well not.
From our perspective, while we’d dearly love to return the favour from late 2020 by relegating them on Saturday evening, a win for us wouldn’t quite do that but it would certainly push them right to the edge of the precipice. It would also leave them at the tender mercies of the Kerrymen who would, no doubt, take considerable glee in finishing the job for us in Round 7.
Aside from revenge, our aim will obviously be to get back on the horse after our narrow loss down in Tralee last Saturday night. A win for us, combined with a victory by Kerry over Armagh, would see us both in the League decider with a match to spare, which isn’t an outcome many of us would have predicted back in late January.
Then again, many – my poor deluded self among them – couldn’t see how we were going to lose to the O’Neill County last September so maybe it’s as well to pipe down ahead of Saturday about our likely place in the League final. Instead, we’d do well to concentrate on the task facing us at Healy Park.
And on that topic, let’s bring this one to an end with our usual straw poll on our prospects for the match facing us. So, how do you reckon we’ll do against Tyrone on Saturday evening? Time to vote on that.
How will we do against Tyrone?
- Win (67%, 363 Votes)
- Lose (25%, 136 Votes)
- Draw (8%, 42 Votes)
Total Voters: 541