Tyrone’s McMahon wary of Oriel kick

By Alan Rodgers

TWO more points on the Division One table just might be enough to secure Tyrone’s top flight survival as they prepare to meet Monaghan in this weekend’s crucial National League clash – but Red Hand assistant manager is wary of an Oriel kick.

It’s rare for the Red Hands to be heading into the final two rounds still in danger of the relegation zone. It’s 2015 since the team last dropped to Division Two, and that’s a fate that the players and everyone concerned with the management team will be anxious to avoid.

But they are facing a Monaghan team with impressive credentials in the last chance saloon. Recent years have saw the Farney county make a number of very notable escapes, and they’ll see this weekend’s clash against their old rivals from Tyrone as another golden opportunity.

Both counties know exactly what’s at stake. Tyrone have, of course, missed the services of a number of experienced and high profile players in recent weeks. Now, though, the return of the likes of Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns and Conor Meyler is a positive as this league campaign reaches its climax.

Nothing less than a win against Monaghan is going to suffice and assistant manager McMahon has no doubts about the importance of this tie and the difficulties that they’ll face against opponents who have experienced a nightmare campaign so far.

“Obviously, the Monaghan game is going to be a massive one. We’ll get the heads down and look at what we need to improve on. Hopefully, then we’ll take that into our performance,” he said.

“It’s always got a derby element and Monaghan are a difficult team to play against. There’s always a kick in them, as we saw in their performances in the past few years.

“People feel that there’s a chance that they could go down. But they will feel that they’ve a chance of staying up. It’s going to be dangerous in that respect, when you have a lot to play for.

“We’re going to have to match their work-rate and intensity and we’ll see where that takes us.”

Tyrone’s situation might not be just as precarious as Monaghan’s is at the moment with the visitors knowing that defeat means relegation. Nevertheless, there’s nothing been taken for granted within the Red Hand camp, especially considering what’s ahead of them in round seven.

Croke Park will be the venue for that tasty clash against All-Ireland champions Dublin. Tyrone will deal with this weekend’s tie first, and then put the focus on the Dubs. Supporters will hope that the Croker date is not do or die.

“We’ll definitely be focused on this Monaghan game before we look ahead to Croke Park,” added two-time All-Ireland winner McMahon.

“I think we have definitely a lot of areas where we can improve upon and a lot of good stuff there too. It’s just getting the consistency to it all.”

As for the overall outlook, the hope for Tyrone is that more of the senior players will be back on board in the very near future as they recover from injuries.

“The intensity that the game is being played at now in league football and how quick the turnaround is probably lends to more injuries,” McMahon added.

“We’ve had three games on the bounce and three very tough games and we were maxing out. But that’s one thing, it’s an opportunity for other men to come in and show the quality that they possess, and stake a claim.

“Down the line, you’re trying to build a squad for the championship and it’s a good chance for the young lads to come in and get more experience, get that mix and blend and hopefully we can build on that.”

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