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Kevin Cassidy

Kevin Cassidy: Tyrone will be full of fire

IT may well be two weeks behind schedule, but in no way does that dampen the excitement for this weekend’s clash between old rivals Kerry and Tyrone.

The last-four clash was originally set to take place on August 15 but was pushed back by two weeks as a result of positive Covid-19 cases within the Ulster champions’ camp. I feel that the correct decision was taken to give Tyrone extra time to help the players recover and prepare properly for a game of this magnitude.

If the game went ahead as planned then regardless of the result, win or lose, it would have left a bitter taste in people’s mouths. From what I gather, the whole Tyrone panel have been training together this week and that’s only fair given the amount of dedication and sacrifice that it takes in order to get to this stage of the competition.

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For Kerry it shouldn’t have caused that much of an upset as teams regularly reset after a draw and return to training so I don’t think the extra week would have put them up or down either.

I suppose the real winner in all of this is Mayo who, after the bruising encounter with Dublin, will have fully recovered and now they can sit back and watch these two teams closely.

To the game itself. If we rewind to three or four weeks ago then there is no doubt that Kerry would be raging hot favourites for this tie, but knowing Tyrone and the sort of siege mentality that they are capable of creating, then this incident made well play right into their hands.

Tyrone people are a very proud bunch and I can guarantee you that the main objective this weekend will be to make sure that they put on a good show to justify being given the extra week. When we look at the game itself, it really is quite simple in that it all comes down to how Tyrone can cope with Kerry’s formidable attack and, likewise, if the Tyrone forward unit can get at the Kerry backline. If they do, then they definitely can get results in that area.

All the talk this week when people dissect the game and try to predict how it will go will no doubt be about their National League encounter down in Killarney. Granted Tyrone were ripped to pieces that day by a very slick Kerry forward unit, but I think it would be silly to think that Tyrone will set up like that this weekend.

Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan are two very shrewd operators and you can be sure that they will have a plan in place to give their defence adequate protection, but at the same time they will want to test that Kerry full-back line as well.

I’ve said it here since the championship started – and the extra two weeks might help that even further – for me if Tyrone can get Cathal McShane, Conor McKenna and Darragh Canavan on the pitch fully fit at the one time then they can cause any defence serious problems.

The big question this weekend is whether or not Tyrone have the man-markers to tie down David Clifford and Sean O’Shea. On top of that, they will also have to keep a close eye on the likes of Paudie Clifford but David and Sean are the two that make the Kerry team tick.

You could argue that by flooding bodies back, which Tyrone will no doubt do, it will help cut out the space for these two lads but you still need two very tight man-markers to negate their influence any time they pick up possession.

Decision time and I think, like most others, that it will take an awesome effort for Tyrone to stop Kerry this weekend. I do think the Tyrone will be full of fire given the circumstances but when I look at both squads and both campaigns to date I just find it hard to see a way that Tyrone can outscore this Kerry machine.

I think the early stages will be cagey and tight but my personal opinion is that Kerry’s fire power will come through in the second half so Kerry to win by four is my prediction.

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