By Alan Rodgers
DARRAGH Canavan is keen to ensure that Tyrone produce another committed performance in Sunday’s penultimate Division One clash against Monaghan.
Two more points from the cauldron that is set to be St Tiernach’s Park on Sunday are almost certain to secure Tyrone’s survival in Division One of the National League.
Victory over Kerry a fortnight ago eased the concerns of the Red Hands. But, amidst the euphoria surrounding that win, there was also an acute awareness of the need to build on a valuable and impressive win.
Next up are Monaghan on Sunday in Clones. They, too, are seeking points to safeguard their Division One place, and their escape-acts in recent years mean that nothing less than a top class display from Tyrone will suffice, as Canavan acknowledged.
“Monaghan are going to be a tough test as well as we try to get our first away win of the campaign. They are a very good side who are always difficult to beat at home and we are going to have to play well again to get a result,” he said.
“They also show plenty of fight, especially towards the end of the league. They always seem to get points when they need them most and that is going to leave them a very dangerous opponent as they are in the same boat as us.
“Hopefully, if we can go to Clones and put in a performance like that (the one against Kerry) again and if we can keep that up and keep working hard, I think we will be there or thereabouts.
“You can’t beat an Ulster derby, too. Those are the games that you want to play in and as I said they are a tough team that are very honest and difficult to beat and no doubt it will be the same this time around especially as both sides need the points.
“There is never much between ourselves and Monaghan when we meet at senior level and it’s likely to be like that again.”
Obviously the win over the Kingdom a fortnight ago was a significant morale-booster for Tyrone. But they still have some convincing to do, especially following the three away defeats to Roscommon, Galway and Mayo which mean that they enter this tie against Monaghan still seeking a first win on the road.
Nevertheless, there is a degree of confidence which has been gained from the Kerry win.
But nobody is under any illusions that the impressive display produced on that occasion will count for little if it isn’t repeated against Monaghan.
“We felt that we had left a lot of scores behind us in previous games. We did a lot of bad stuff in those defeats but we did good stuff as well, so we just knew that if we could get one game where we had a wee bit of luck that things would go our way and thankfully things fell into place against Kerry,” added Canavan.
“We needed to win big time as the table wasn’t looking that good for us. We know that we still have a lot of work to do. It is only one game and hopefully we will have a long year ahead and it’s a good starting point, but it’s just two points.
“It showed the character within the squad to bounce back from conceding those two goals against Kerry. But that was perhaps down to the support as well as they could have got on our backs and gave us a bit of stick, but they stood with us and we kept at our plan and worked hard and I felt that we deserved the win.
“We were able to pull away and keep them at arms length and it was a good response to conceding the second goal. We all know that modern football is more than a 15-man game as you need boys coming off the bench and making an impact and we had that and it was needed.”
Things could hardly be tighter at the bottom of Division One, with any one of about four teams still in danger of facing the dreaded drop to Division Two.
With Kerry expected to defeat Roscommon, and Armagh on five points and that little bit ahead, the pressure is on Tyrone, Monaghan and Donegal to make their mark with just two games remaining. As a result, the task facing Feargal Logan, Brian Dooher and the Tyrone players is abundantly clear ahead of this sixth round clash.
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