The Dubs are the kingpins says McGeary

By Alan Rodgers

A FIRST clash for Tyrone against the All-Ireland champions Dublin in Croke Park for five years will provide the Red Hand team in transition with the ideal chance to test their current status as this 2024 National League campaign reaches its conclusion.

On that occasion in 2019 Tyrone recorded a marvellous 1-14 to 1-11 win which was seen as especially important. This Sunday’s clash might not carry the same level of significance, but there’s no doubting the determination of the Red Hands to go out and make their mark.

Perhaps most important will be the chance for the debutants and newcomers to the team to prove their worth on the biggest stage. As a result, the performance and outcome in this round seven clash looks set to provide an honest report on what has been a mixed Division One campaign.

“That’s the way the league has gone for us. One week we’ve got breathing space and then the next week there’s a foot on the throat. It’s not nice for that to happen any week. In Dublin, we’ll be going to win it and that will be the story,” said former Footballer of the Year Kieran McGeary.

“It’s a new experience for us surely. They have new players, and we’ve got new players. It’s back in the National League again in Croke Park and we haven’t had them in a while.

“They are the kingpins at the moment. Look, we’re going down the road and we absolutely know the threat that they bring and we will do our utmost to try and get a result.

“Did anyone not see them coming back? That’s the way the league sits. Sometimes you can go out and have a bit of a stumble to start, or have a slow start. You can never really doubt that they were going to come back and flourish.

“Playing them in Croke Park is going to be a huge day out and a huge occasion. But the message will be clear, we’ll be going down looking for two points and that’s that the way it will be.”

For players such as Seanie O’Donnell, Ciarán Daly, Conall Devlin and Aidan Clarke, how they get on in Croke Park against a team of Dublin’s quality will be interesting. But they will not be overawed and, as McGeary explains, have the ability to make their mark.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to see the young players coming through. They’ve brought a great degree of energy about the set-up so they have,” he added.

“They’re coming in as experienced lads. People say that they are debutants, but they’ve done it at minor and u-21 level and they’ve got the backing to their name and they’ve all progressed really well.

“We want them to be pushing for a position because that’s the way that I was starting out. You wanted your spot and the jersey and you fought hard for it.

“If you did that then you got it and these young boys have done that and continue to do it.

“That competition is extremely healthy for everyone. For me, for them, for the set-up and for the county. It’s good to see it.”

The Pomeroy clubman was, of course, a key player for the Red Hands in their 2021 All-Ireland winning season. Things haven’t gone just as straightforward during the intervening three years, but he’s now delighted to be back from injury and looking forward to what lies ahead.

“I’m getting there. It takes time to recover, but I’m heading in the correct direction. I started tonight (Saturday against Monaghan) and am grateful for it. I pulled up near the end,” he remarked.

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