Tribesmen coming to town

By Niall Gartland

TYRONE are bidding to overcome Galway for the first time in five years when they host Padraic Joyce’s side in Sunday’s crucially important third-round league encounter at O’Neill’s Healy Park.

The Red Hands have lost their three most recent clashes against Galway, though that comes with the caveat that all of those games were played a solid three hours down the road in either the tin-box of Tuam or a typically rain-sodden Salthill.

The last time they came out on the winning side of the argument was a Division One clash in 2019, and they’ll be hopeful that they can put a halt to their mini-drought this Sunday.

After an average 2023, Galway have endured a sloppy start to the league. They could have no qualms about their opening day loss to Mayo and could only muster a low-scoring draw against Roscommon on their second day out nearly a fortnight ago.

They’ve been plagued by injuries and Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Sean Kelly played no part in their drawn encounter against the Rossies. Walsh sat the game out as a precaution so expect to see him back on Sunday, but the other two men are significant injury doubts.

Tyrone likewise have had more than their fair share of injuries though they’ll welcome Conn Kilpatrick back to the starting 15 after serving a one-game suspension against Derry.

Household names like Conor Meyler, Mattie Donnelly, Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns and Cathal McShane haven’t played any part in the league to date, while Peter Harte and Cormac Quinn missed the Derry game due to injury.

It’s been a demanding schedule for the Tyrone lads who have featured in Ulster University’s surge to last night’s Sigerson Cup final clash against UCD down in Tralee. Darragh and Ruairi Canavan, Ciaran Daly, Conor Cush and Steve Donaghy are key names for an Ulster University side backboned by a significant Tyrone contingent.

Sunday will be Tyrone’s second of four home clashes with another Connacht outfit – Mayo – due in Omagh on Saturday week.

It could prove a defining period for the Red Hands in terms of their overall league ambitions. They started off their Division One campaign with a promising performance against Roscommon, carving out a 0-17 to 1-11 victory, before falling short against Derry in Celtic Park. It didn’t help matters that their shooting was wayward on the afternoon, but that hasn’t been a long-running problem and Tyrone fans will be hopeful of an improved performance against the Tribesmen.

It’s unlikely to be anything other than closely competitive and tense but if Tyrone get it right on the day, there’s no reason why they can’t pick up two invaluable league points.

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