Red Hand hurlers bidding to bounce back

By Alan Rodgers

HOME advantage is among the potential benefits which the Tyrone hurlers are hoping to call upon as they seek that first National League victory when Roscommon visit Carrickmore for what’s expected to be a close contest this weekend.

Games between the two have been tight and uncompromising in recent years. Tyrone held the edge in last year’s league and in the Nickey Rackard Cup final, so there’s a determination to make their mark again as this 2024 season gathers pace. After last weekend’s loss to Derry, the need for points is clear.

There is no sense of panic either, as the management and players reflect on the defeat to the Oakleafers on Sunday past. Instead, the manner in which the team fought back from a disastrous opening period against the wind has shown once more that they are capable of competing effectively in this Division 2B.

Now in their second year at this higher level, it’s still all about increasing their experience. A changed team from 2023 indicates that the re-building process is well underway and this weekend’s game is set to further illustrate the Red Hand potential.

New team manager Stephen McGarry is well aware of the threat posed by the Connacht side. He is hoping, though, that Tyrone will be well in tune for this crunch second round meeting as both teams seek what would be an important victory.

“Roscommon have come up again this year after being in Division 2B for a long time. They’re a team that we know a bit about,” he said.

“But I’m sure that they’ll be fairly changed from the last time we played them. It’s going to be a good game at Carrickmore.

“This Tyrone team isn’t results driven. We’re performance based. We lost to Derry but on another day we would have absolutely got the result.

“Every day we go out we’ll be looking for a performance.”

Red card dismissals for Joe McToal and Lorcan Devlin undermined Tyrone’s efforts during the closing stages of last Sunday’s clash. They stuck to their task and the level of effort and commitment during the third quarter especially is a real positive that they’ll be hoping to consolidate.

Roscommon have the added advantage of a home win over London by 0-24 to 1-15 at the weekend, and they will be understandably keen to maintain the momentum of that result.

Nevertheless, Tyrone’s display against Derry was impressive, despite the 2-20 to 0-16 defeat.

“We ask the players to be the best versions of themselves that they can be and produce the best performance that they can,” added McGarry. “Hopefully that will always be good enough, but they’re still learning.

“Even in the first half last Sunday we created three great goal opportunities that on another day we would have taken. We weren’t panicking going in at half-time because of the conditions.

“We knew that we would have our turn to go at it and we did, right up until the obvious talking point in the second half with the red cards.”

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