Crossan aims to spring a surprise

By Alan Rodgers

POINTS on the board will now be top priority for the Tyrone hurlers as they continue their Christy Ring Cup campaign with a crucial tie on Saturday at Owenbeg against a Derry team which is among the favourites to eventually win the competition.

Defeat to London last weekend means that it’s becoming increasingly important for the Red Hands to make their mark. But they will have to be on top form against the Oakleafers, who have already defeated them in both their earlier meetings this year.

In fact, this will be the third occasion in 2024 on which Tyrone will have to travel to meet Derry. A comprehensive loss in the National League round games was followed by a much more closely contested final three weeks ago. Now, Tyrone will be aiming to build on that performance as they prepare for this third instalment.

Anthony Crossan returned to the first 15 last week in the loss to London. The Strabane native and Carrickmore Eire Óg player is well aware of what’s being demanded of both him and the rest of the panel in this second round tie.

“We’ve had a very busy schedule since the start of the year and the London game was another outing for us. But we’ve a lot of work to do because London were very superior against us and we’ll have to drive things on for the Derry game,” he said.

“Our aim will be to keep working and go into the match against Derry this weekend with a good degree of confidence in our ability to get a result. Next week we’ll just try and see if we can get off to a winner.

“I suppose London just worked that bit harder and got the result because of that work. We need to improve and this whole season is a work in progress. Derry are going to be tough as always and the thing for us is to keep pushing on. We believe every player on this panel is good enough to get a position and no place is guaranteed.”

Tyrone, though, have been hit by a series of injuries which could hardly have come at a worse time at the start of the Christy Ring.

Joe McToal, Sean Óg Grogan and Seamus Sweeney were among those who missed out last weekend. Then Oran McKee went off injured during the early stages of the match, leaving team manager, Stephen McGarry and the backroom team having to cal on the whole of their panel.

Hopes will be high that all three will be ready to return to action sooner rather than later as Tyrone continue what is likely to be a fairly tough campaign.

“This is going to be another important clash against Derry. We’re going to be underdogs but it’s these type of matches against strong opposition that we want to be playing. This is the level that Tyrone are aspiring to and our aim is to be beating teams like Derry,” added Anthony Crossan.

“It’s matches like the one against London and now Derry that I like to be playing anyway and the same goes for the rest of the panel. Everyone in that changing-room is determined and we’ll go on Saturday and give Derry a good battle.

“We know what we face and the challenges which are ahead of us for the rest of the season and it’s about making the most of the opportunities which come our way.”

That process begins with another trip to Owenbeg this Saturday and a game in which Tyrone will be aiming to spring a surprise.

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