By Niall Gartland
DOWN but by no means out. Tyrone hurling manager Michael McShane says his players were by no means disheartened by their defeat to Roscommon last weekend, but now they face a do-or-die clash against Donegal in their final group stage match in the Nickey Rackard competition (Saturday, Carrickmore, 2pm)
There’s no two ways about it, this is effectively an All-Ireland semi-final and only victory will suffice to see them advance to a final at Croke Park for the second year running.
McShane has full confidence in his side’s potential to overcome the set-back of this weekend’s defeat, and with some justification – his team is laden with experienced players who have been in this position before.
“I can assure you there’ll be no problem with getting our lads up for the game. As soon as the match finished on Saturday, I could see the determination in them. They were so disappointed but they really want to get back and redeem themselves. They’ve got plenty of big-game experience and we’re happy with where we’re at, but we have to move on and try our utmost to win this game.
“It would have been great to win against Roscommon as we’d already be through to the final, but I can’t be down on the fellas as they’ve performed well all year and we just had an off day. We’ve still got it in our own hands but it’s a winner-takes-all situation.”
McShane is, however, disappointed that the fixtures chiefs at Croke Park saw fit to schedule this game for 3pm at Carrickmore, which certainly isn’t convenient for those who would wish to travel to see the Tyrone footballers in their All-Ireland U-20 final at 5pm in Carrick-on-Shannon. Tyrone requested that the hurling match be brought forward to 1pm to give supporters ample time to watch both games, but their request was turned down at central level.
“We asked if we could get the game moved forward, I know there’s supporters and families who would’ve loved to have seen both. This is effectively an All-Ireland semi-final for us, and I’m very disappointed that the CCCC couldn’t agree to a change. I think it’s unfair and the wrong decision, and as I said, I’m very disappointed.”
Opponents Donegal have been in good form this season and claimed a resounding victory over Warwickshire in their Nickey Rackard clash last weekend. They were also unfortunate not to reach the Division 2B final this year, so McShane has them pegged as ‘favourites’ to take the spoils.
“Donegal have been in in Division Two and have performed very well for the last couple of seasons. They’ve proved themselves to be well worthy of being a Division 2B team.
“They’re hot favourites going into this lets be honest, they’ve been playing at a higher standard. They drew with Roscommon and we lost. They’re a very good team but we’ll just focus on ourselves and try to bring our best performance.”