Shot at glory for Tyrone hurlers

By Alan Rodgers

ONE final now big task lies between the Tyrone hurlers and what would be a brilliant National League title success.

Victory over Derry in this Saturday’s Division 2B decider would represent a massive success for the Red Hands. They have battled back from the verge of relegation to clinch promotion and the exciting prospect of silverware to highlight their massive progress.

But they will go in as underdogs against the Oakleafers who defeated Tyrone comprehensively in the league. This re-match, though, offers a shot at redemption for a Tyrone team which has displayed commitment and skill throughout this campaign.

Carrickmore, Eire Óg player Seamus Sweeney has been on form in 2024. He’s looking forward to this latest challenge against opponents who proved their worth by topping the Division 2B table.

“It’s going to be great to get another crack at Derry after the league match when we lost two players. We’re really just preparing this week and then getting ready to give it our all in the final,” he said.

“We’ll be aiming to get a good start, get the set-up right and play the hurling that we know we’re capable of. It’s about getting the ball moving quickly and keeping the points ticking over.

“There’s nothing better than playing competitive games and the two games against Derry this weekend and then the semi-final against Donegal are great. You can do all the training you want, but these competitive matches are the only way to improve.”

It has been some transformation for the hurlers in the past fortnight. They entered the Wicklow game in danger of dropping a division under the new structures for 2025.

But a comprehensive victory capped by a strong second-half display and results elsewhere saw them gain promotion and a place in the semi-final.

Old rivals Donegal provided their opposition in that game last weekend. A tight contest resulted in Tyrone just scraping through by the minimum margin.

The competitive nature of the clash should stand to the hurlers as they now prepare for what’s certain to be a tough clash against Derry.

Nevertheless, as Sweeney explains, the win over Donegal will have given them a huge boost as they prepare for this latest high profile meeting.

“Our semi-final win has given us the belief for next year that we can really go and compete with these top teams,” he said.

“It was a very hectic first half against Donegal in the semi-final. But then the two defences closed things up and conditions didn’t help. It’s about getting those big games and performing in them.

“We pulled together in the second half and held out to the very end.”

Next year’s challenges will be significant. It will be Tyrone’s first time in Division Two since 1998 and the prospect of meeting quality teams including Kerry, Down and Meath is certain to require consistent preparations in the months ahead.

“It will be a big year for us against teams such as Kerry, Down and Derry and Donegal.”

For the moment through the focus is on the Division 2B final which throws-in at Owenbeg at 5.30pm on Saturday evening.

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