McGarry hoping for rewarding finish

By Alan Rodgers

TWO different outcomes are sitting in front of the Tyrone hurlers as their National League campaign reaches its climax with an absolutely critical match against Wicklow.

It has been a mixed scorecard for the Red Hands so far, but the choices facing Stephen McGarry and his players are abundantly clear as they prepare to meet opponents whose season took a dramatic upward turn with a home draw against Derry last weekend.

Victories for Tyrone and Donegal – who host London – will see the Red Hands through to the semi-final.

But equally, there’s the need to avoid the dreaded relegation zone and the prospect of a return to Division 3A.

As a result, there’s no shortage of motivation as they host the Garden County at the Eoghan Ruadh grounds in Dungannon.

“This is going to be a big game for us and I think the boys have a point to prove after the defeat to London last weekend,” said Tyrone manager McGarry.

“Our performance last weekend was good for 30 minutes, and I’ll be expecting a reaction for them after the loss.

“Wicklow are definitely going to present a big threat. They’re a team that has obviously had a slow start to the season, and then had a tremendous result against Derry last weekend when they drew at Aughrim. So, I’m sure they’ll be coming to meet us full of confidence.”

Tyrone’s defeat against London was understandably a disappointment. The team, management and backroom team all travelled over on the Saturday and looked to be in a reasonable position entering the second half. But then things went wrong on the resumption, and a seven-point defeat was the outcome.

It means that Tyrone’s points tally sits on three entering this final tie. The table shows them sitting on three points, one ahead of Wicklow and level with Roscommon. Consequently, the situation is clear and will demand a massive response from the Red Hands.

But there are positives. While 13 of last year’s panel are no longer available, the performances of many of the young players have raised hopes for the future, and they will be aiming to make their mark to secure Division 2B survival.

“We hurled really well for 30 minutes of last week’s game. Our intensity was good, our hurling was good and then we just took a foot of the gas a wee bit.

“Maybe there was a bit of complacency,” added McGarry.

“You can’t afford to do that at this level. It’s something that has sort of happened throughout this campaign where’s we’ve hurled well in spells and then eased off. It’s something that we’ve worked on and talked about and I’d be hoping to see a performance for a full 70 minutes on Sunday.

“A result on Sunday os important for the players to see the benefits of their training. If we could finish this year on five points, then it would be progress on last year with a newly assembled panel.

“Tyrone are new to this division and the lads are learning on their feet. It takes time to get established and get used to that higher level. This division is filled with really strong teams and really strong hurlers.

“If you give them the opportunity, then they’ll take advantage. In spells of games throughout the league we’ve done that and it’s a matter of us getting a performance on Sunday and it’s something that I’m fairly confident of seeing.”

Nothing less than big improvements on last weekend will be demanded from Tyrone as they get set to finish this National League campaign on a high note.

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