ALL-IRELAND SENIOR CHAMPIONSHIP QUARTERS FINALS PHASE ONE
ROSCOMMON V TYRONE
Saturday, Hyde Park, 5pm
BY BARRY O‘DONNELL
A SUPER-charged crowd in the stands and pumped-up opposition on the pitch awaits Tyrone out west this Saturday evening, Kieran McGeary has warned.
For the second year running the Red Hands set out on their ‘Super 8’ adventures against Roscommon, but unlike in 2018 when the Ulster side romped to a facile 4-24 to 2-12 triumph at Croke Park, this time the match is being played at the Rossies home patch in the ‘Hyde’.
And another notable difference this season, McGeary notes, is the fact that Roscommon come into this encounter buoyed by stunning both Mayo and Galway enroute to the Connacht title, since when they have had four weeks to ready themselves for the All-Ireland Quarter-Finals.
Tyrone have already crossed swords with the Rossies away in the League this season, and McGeary accepts the visitors were fortunate to emerge from that February clash with a share of the spoils.
“We weren’t thinking of Roscommon before we beat Cavan, but now we have them, we have them down there.
“We went there in the League this year and you know how lucky we were to get out
of there with a draw. We could have easily have been beaten.
“They’re provincial winners, sitting on a high, and we have had to go through the back door, so bookies will rightly favour Roscommon, and rightly so. They’re a great team, they’re a fantastic county, they’ll have loads of support, and they’ll all be buzzing, they’ll be waiting for us.”
McGeary, who produced another excellent performance in Tyrone’s demolition of Cavan in Round 4 of the Qualifiers last Saturday at Clones, is looking forward to the outset of the Super 8s, with Tyrone grouped alongside, Roscommon, Cork and Dublin.
The Pomeroy stars added that the team will treat every opposition with the same degree of respect, even though reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin are expected to top the table.
“Let people assume that. It’s only right that they do think that. They are All-Ireland champions, they are the team that they are.
“We will be targeting every single game the exact same way, down in Roscommon, we’ll be going to Croke Park against Cork and then we invite Dublin to Healy Park.
“So we will be taking every game with the exact same mind-frame. We will be taking Roscommon first, and we’ll see where we get with that game.”
Inevitably given the huge rivalry which has developed between the counties over the past two decades, much of the focus seen the fixtures were released has centred on the Dubs visit to Healy Park in early August.
McGeary agrees that it will again be an occasion to relish, though he cautions about looking too far ahead.
“We got over them this year in the National League, which was nice, down in their part of the world. We ran them extremely close last year, but people say that Dublin can’t travel.
Dublin can travel and they travel extremely well and they travel extremely strong.
“It doesn’t really matter where you get them, to be honest, but we will target Roscommon first, we will face Cork second, and then we will worry about the Dublin game, when that comes.”
Tyrone have rebounded well over the past month, extending their unbeaten run in Qualifier games over recent years to eleven matches. However despite the encouraging upturn in performances the 23 year old maintains that the pain from that Ulster semi reversal against Donegal still lingers.
“We took the Donegal defeat extremely bad. It still sits within us, we’re still swallowing that lump. They are where they are, for very good reasons, but it was a massive learning curve for us.
“I wouldn’t say that we were sitting extremely cocky going in against them, not one bit, but they nipped us on the day, and we will take it as it comes. You never know, we could end up meeting them again, who knows?” #
Tyrone cruised to a 1-20 to 0-7 success against Cavan last Saturday, the margin of victory surprising McGeary who expected a tougher assignment against the Breffni Blues.
“We never saw the game panning out that way, to be quite honest. We thought it was going to be going neck and neck to the last minute.
“They were Ulster finalists and we weren’t. That’s the only way we had to look at it. We’ve had many’s a battle with them in the past.
“There’s been similar score-lines, and there’s also been very tight games, and we honestly thought it was going to be a really tight game at the weekend. But we prepared well, and I think and hope that our preparation was the deciding factor.”