Bumper crowd expected for visit of Tyrone

By Michael McMullan

THERE is set to be an electric at atmosphere at Celtic Park on Sunday as Derry host rivals Tyrone in round two of the league.

The headline story will be three-time Tyrone All-Ireland winning manager Mickey Harte up against the Red Hands in his role as Derry manager.

He will come up against many of the players he managed, including his nephew Peter, the new Tyrone captain.

There were reports of 4,500 tickets sold for the game as early as Monday.

Derry backed up their McKenna Cup success with an opening day in over Kerry in Tralee with Tyrone also impressing in their relatively comfortable win over Roscommon.

“Any two points in Division One are critical,” Harte said after Saturday’s pulsating finish in Tralee. “I have been there many years in the past and I know what it is like. Everybody is out to get early points and they are hard to get there and, worse than that, they are harder to get at the end of the season.”

With the magic number of six points often the early target, the prize for victory on Sunday is significant.

Much of the post-game debate in Tralee was the inclusion of Glen trio Conor Glass, Ethan Doherty and Ciaran McFaul just six days after their All-Ireland final win over St Brigid’s.

Harte fielded 13 of Derry’s 2023 All-Ireland semi-final team. One of those missing was Eoin McEvoy and it’s unknown if the Rossa man will be available for selection on Sunday.

“I can’t tell for sure. I just know he wasn’t able to be part of anything tonight,” he said after Saturday’s game.

Harte handed league debuts to Diarmuid Baker and Cormac Murphy with Declan Cassidy starting in the league for the first time.

“The more time you can get into these men in these situations, it is going to help them,” Harte said of the impact of the newcomers blooded in the McKenna Cup.

“They are going to have that experienced banked. You have to do it bit by bit.

“You have to go with the people who are experienced and have been there and done it.

“If they are not available or are off form a bit, it is good to have people to introduce and give them game time, give them experience.”

After Sunday, Derry will host Monaghan and they’ll be striving to head into the break with full points.

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