It’s Tuesday night and so the time is ticking down rapidly to Saturday evening in Castlebar and the arrival of Tyrone. Our NFL Division One Round 4 match against them throws in at MacHale Park that evening at 7pm, Noel Mooney of Cavan will ref it and it’s being shown live on TG4.
With three rounds of matches already played in this year’s National League, we’re perceived to be riding rather high – though not as high as the Rossies – in Division One whereas they’re seen as struggling. Indeed, Stats and Solos GAA reckon (here) that we’re most likely going to finish top of the division while the Red Hands are projected to finish bottom of the pile.
In reality, however, we’re just two points above them in the table so a win for the visitors on Saturday night would leave us in the same boat as we head down the closing straight in this year’s spring campaign. And, based on recent evidence against them at MacHale Park, an away win wouldn’t exactly count as a shock.
You want a shock? Try this for size: the last time we beat them at MacHale Park was back in 1992, a full 31 years ago.
The most recent time we played them at MacHale Park – during Covid in October 2020 – they relegated us, in 2018 they hammered us by twelve points, they had four points to spare over us in 2015 and a single point in 2013, we drew in both 2009 and 2006 and they humbled us by nine points in 2004. The game before that was the 1992 meeting, which we won by 2-12 to 1-11.
Most of that is, in footballing terms, ancient history. All the same it’d be nice, for a change, to get a win over them on home turf.
Since we played them last, losing by two points in hugely frustrating circumstances up in Omagh last March, they haven’t exactly been ripping up tree trunks.
Still the All-Ireland champions, they finished last year’s Division One campaign by going down to Killarney and yanking Kerry’s chain, coming away with a one-point win. That guaranteed them mid-table safety in the division.
But that was as good as it got for them in 2022. Ulster proved short and rather painful, with a preliminary round win over Fermanagh followed by an absolute thumping by Derry in the quarters, the Oakleafers winning that one by 1-18 to 0-10.
Worse was to follow as they had the bad fortune to be paired against Armagh in the first round of the qualifiers. Their vertiginous fall to earth from the giddy heights of Sam Maguire success the previous year (over us, let’s not forget) was completed as the Orchard County prevailed at the Athletic Grounds in early June by 1-16 to 1-10.
Fast-forward to the end of January this year and the O’Neill County became the first side to feel the rough end of the rising Rossies. The home side cut loose at Dr Hyde Park that day, blasting in three goals on their way to a comfortable 3-11 to 1-12 win.
Back at Healy Park for Round 2, Tyrone righted themselves against Donegal. Eight points separated the teams that day as the Red Hands eased to an 0-16 to 0-8 success.
Defeat was, though, once again their lot last Sunday. Their clash with Galway at Tuam was a closely-fought one but even without their heavy-hitters up top, the Tribesmen won out by 0-16 to 0-13.
Which brings us, neatly, back to Saturday night. Will we bag a second win on the trot at Fortress MacHale? Or will they, yet again, beat us at our own gaff? Let’s end with a vote on that.
How will we do against Tyrone?
- Win (78%, 529 Votes)
- Lose (12%, 81 Votes)
- Draw (9%, 64 Votes)
Total Voters: 674