Duffin: Tyrone hurlers have nothing to lose against Kildare

By Alan Rodgers

A LESSON from history offers at least some hope for the Tyrone hurlers as they prepare for what’s firmly expected to be their toughest outing this year against a Kildare team which has been blazing a trail in the Christy Ring Cup so far this year.

It is almost 30 years now since the counties last met, and on that occasion the Red Hands competed well against the Lilywhites in the National League. But they’re still in a state of hope rather than expectation as they renew acquaintances at O’Neill Park in Dungannon on Saturday.

Victory over Sligo in the round three clash a fortnight ago has provided the Red Hands with some breathing space. But they will still need to make the most of their opportunities in the final two matches against Kildare this weekend and then Wicklow at home on the following Saturday.

Sean Duffin returned to injury for them in the Sligo match. A player with Ballycastle McQuillan’s. He qualifies for the team by virtue of the grandparent rule and is related to the Devlins from Dungannon.

“Sligo really out it up to us in the last match. It was a physical tie right to the end and we maybe lost our shape a little with the two lads being sent off. But we reacted well, it was a good performance and it’s about keeping building on that,” he said.

“We’ve Kildare and that win over Sligo was an important one to get after the two defeats against Derry and London. Our big aim was to improve on our tackling and I think that showed in the game. It’s about keeping that going now.

“There’s been a two week break now since the Sligo match. A lot of boys are carrying knocks after a busy schedule. We got to the league final, and the pitches being very heavy has been sore on the bodies and legs.

“Kildare have been operating at a higher level than ourselves, so obviously it’s going to be interesting to see what we’re up against. Last year, they were unfortunate to be relegated from the Joe McDonagh.

“But we’ve got nothing to lose and will be massive outsiders in terms of winning the game. It’s a home game for us and you don’t want any coming up and beating you at home. But we’re working hard and they’re coming from a bit sharper hurling. It’s about getting up to that pace.”

Victory or defeat in Saturday’s clash against the Leinster side will set Tyrone up ideally for that final Christy Ring clash against Wicklow in the final round tie a week on.

Suffice to say that, while they’ll be up against it this weekend, there will be a strong determination to produce the kind of performance needed to cause the Lilywhites at least some problems in the course of the 70 minutes.

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