Breffni battle provides last test before Croker date for Tyrone

TYRONE Ladies wrap up their NFL Division Two campaign at Redhills against Cavan on Sunday with a place in the final long since secured.

Manager Sean O’Kane has plenty of selection headaches as players stick their hands up for next month’s meeting with Kildare at Croke Park on April 7.

Those two sides played out a draw last weekend in Beragh. That was an opportunity for O’Kane and counterpart Diane O’Hora to cast an eye on their squads.

Several players got key game time, which proved a worthwhile exercise although both teams were missing key personnel. O’Kane was happy enough with the performance and outcome

“It was probably a fair result. It was good open football and we have girls there that know they were in a real Championship match. We missed chances in the first half but they are a Senior Championship side and it’s going to be a massive task in the final,” said the Tyrone boss.

At the back for Tyrone, newcomer Eimear Quinn, along with Caitlin Campbell and Joanne Barrett performed well. Aoibheann McHugh and Meabh Mallon jostled for parity against the experienced Kildare midfield pair of Grace Clifford and Claire Sullivan, while Zoë Loughran proved a handful up front, and Emma Jane Gervin really shone in the second half.

O’Kane will no doubt consider mixing things up again for the trip to Cavan this weekend.

“We have girls itching to get game time and while it would be good to keep the unbeaten record you have to try and balance things.

“We have players who are now up to speed who weren’t before and they will be pushing for the Championship.”

Eimear Quinn and Catlin McCallion were given starts against Kildare in a contest that once again emphasised Tyrone’s character.

Despite a handful of changes, their character and determination was still evident and that was another positive for the manager.

“That’s what the squad is for. We were able to give players game time but it will be a different occasion at Croke Park,” O’Kane added.

As for this weekend clash with Cavan O’Kane admits it’s a very much changed Breffni side from that Gerry Moane managed.

“We were talking about that this week and by the look of things there are a lot of new faces there,” he said.

“They are rebuilding and depending on results it will dictate who needs the points.”

Cavan suffered a heavy loss at the weekend against a rampant Donegal and now desperately need to finish the final round with a win as relegation looms otherwise. That will matter little to Tyrone as they prepare for the league final.

From O’Kane’s point of view it’s about getting through without any fresh injury worries.

As it stands he is confident of having a full squad available for the final in early April with no fresh concerns from the weekend.

The LGFA have confirmed a 1pm throw in for the Division Two Final at Croker which will be followed by the Division One Final clash as part of a double header.

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