Preview: Tyrone must be on guard

By Niall Gartland

CLARE are rank outsiders for their first ever championship outing against Tyrone this Sunday, but that makes for the perfect ambush situation so the Red Hands will have to be on their guard in their All-Ireland SFC Round Two match.

The Banner County are a solid outfit that finished third in Division Three, gave Kerry a decent rattle in the Munster final and lost by a mere two points to Cork (a coming force, just maybe) in their group stage opener in mid-May.

Tyrone can’t afford to take them lightly and coach Joe McMahon recognised that anything other than a win won’t suffice in Sunday’s afternoon showdown at O’Neill’s Healy Park.

He said: “They have quality players, they’re well set up, and they won’t fear Tyrone, for sure.

“They’ll see it as an opportunity and a scalp as well, to go after a Division One team. In a way, all the pressure is on Tyrone, and very little on them.”

While it isn’t a total mathematical impossibility, it now appears highly unlikely that Tyrone will finish top of the table whatever happens in their two upcoming games against Clare and Cork. All Tyrone can do is get their own house in order, and McMahon admits that elements of their performance against Donegal, particularly in the second-half, were lacking as they succumbed to a 0-21 to 0-14 defeat.

“That was the aim, to top the group, but that’s not to say that the opportunity has been lost, because Cork and Clare are two very good teams also, and both Tyrone and Donegal will be up against it in both of those games.

“But in terms of our own performance, that’s all we can look at at this stage, and we would be disappointed with how we performed in the second half particularly.

“We hit a lot of wides, didn’t take our chances, and Donegal punished us for that.”

Asked exactly what needs improved and rectified, McMahon said that they need to be more efficient in front of goal in particular, while expressing a degree of disappointment with the officiating of Joe McQuillan.

“We’ll learn that taking our chances when the moments come is important.

“We felt that the second half was poor, it also matched the officials’ performance as well. I think there were a couple of soft frees throughout the game, and you saw the response from the crowd.

“It’s very frustrating from that end, but we can only control what we do, and we certainly wouldn’t be best pleased with the way things went.

“The players know that themselves, and hopefully we can dust ourselves down and go again against Clare.”

There’s an element of novelty surrounding Sunday’s game as it’s the first ever championship meeting between the teams, and while they’ve met in the league twice – rewind back 1995 and 1996 – none of the current crop of players have any experience whatsoever of playing the Banner County.

They’re a team to be respected, especially when you consider the cards they have been dealt; respected manager Colm Collins stepped down at the end of last season and the absence from the panel for a variety of reasons of key names like Eoin Cleary, Keelan Sexton, Ciarán Russell, Cathal O’Connor and Jamie Malone looked like a major bodyblow to the cause.

However, their new manager Mark Fitzgerald has done a superb job and their less established names, not to mention younger players coming through, have more than stepped up to the plate.

So it’s a big enough game for Tyrone and McMahon recognises that they simply can’t afford to slip up ahead of their third and final outing against Cork.

“We’re coming into the stage where you need to be winning the last two games if you want to be qualifying.

“We know there’s another two games to play and another two challenges for us, and it’s just about getting that consistency throughout.”

Feargal Logan, who suffered a stroke back in February, made a welcome return to the match-day environment last Saturday, travelling with the team to Ballybofey and keeping an eye on proceedings from the stand. McMahon was delighted to have him back.

“He was certainly a big miss, and has been very welcome back.

“Hopefully as the year progresses, he’ll become more prominent, but for now, he’s happy just to be there, giving his thoughts, his ideas.

“He’s just a quality manager and certainly a big lift for everyone involved. “He’s another set of eyes, and Feargal has a wealth of experience. He has played at the very top, managed at the very top, and that experience, that quality can only help the cause.”


1996 Clare 0-7 Tyrone 1-9
IT’S nearly three decades since Tyrone played Clare in a game of any description, a league encounter at a rain-soaked Ennis. There were plenty of familiar faces on the Tyrone team – Peter Canavan, Feargal Logan, Paul Devlin, Jody Gormley, Finbar McConnell and Gerard Cavlan among them. Tyrone, who’d reached the previous year’s All-Ireland final, pushed on in the second half with Adrian Cush’s goal the decisive score on the day.

Clare: J Hanrahan; A Moloney, K O’Mahony, P Gallagher; B Keating, JJ Rouine, G Kelly; B Rounie, K O’Neill (0-1); T Kirwin, M Daly (0-3), M Hynes (0-1); P Conway, F McInerney (0-2), K Considine
Subs: J Enright for Kirwin, G Killeen for Considine, J Leahy for Conway

Tyrone: F McConnell; P Devlin, A Morris, R McGarrity; P Donnelly, S McCallan, B Mallon’ F Logan (0-1), J Gormley; B Dooher, P Canavan (0-2), S McLoughlin; A Cush (1-0), D Gormley (0-3), G Cavlan (0-3)
Subs: M Quinn for Gormley, F Devlin for Donnelly

1995 Tyrone 0-13 Clare 0-8 – NFL
1996 Clare 0-7 Tyrone 1-9 -NFL



Tyrone 1-10 Donegal 0-15
Armagh 1-14 Tyrone 2-10
Tyrone 0-17 Roscommon 1-11
Derry 1-12 Tyrone 0-9
Tyrone 0-12 Galway 1-10
Tyrone 1-15 Mayo 1-11
Kerry 0-18 Tyrone 1-11
Tyrone 1-19 Monaghan 2-13
Dublin 5-18 Tyrone 0-12
Cavan 3-16 Tyrone 1-23
Donegal 0-18 Tyrone 0-16
Donegal 0-21 Tyrone 0-14


Cork 2-14 Clare 0-8
Clare 3-18 Waterford 1-7

Clare 0-9 Sligo 1-5
Westmeath 1-11 Clare 0-13
Offaly 1-12 Clare 2-10
Clare 2-5 Wicklow 0-8
Limerick 0-14 Clare 1-16
Clare 0-15 Antrim 0-12
Down 3-15 Clare 1-10
Waterford 1-9 Clare 2-20
Clare 1-13 Kerry 0-23
Cork 1-13 Clare 1-11



Darragh Canavan 2-43 (19f, 1m)
Darren McCurry 0-30 (20f)
Ciarán Daly 2-13 (1m)

Aaron Griffin 1-28 (1f)
Emmet McMahon 1-27 (20f)
Ciarán Downes 1-25 (12f, 3 45)

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