By Niall Gartland
TYRONE skipper Padraig Hampsey knows they’ll need to replicate the intensity they brought to their All-Ireland semi-final victory against Kerry if they’re to bring the Sam Maguire back to Tyrone for a fourth time in the county’s history.
The Red Hands summoned a massive effort against Peter Keane’s side and were duly rewarded with a place in the All-Ireland final showdown against Mayo this Saturday evening at Croke Park.
Their Connacht opponents are not only bidding to make amends for losing last year’s final, but also to end seven decades of hurt since their last triumph in 1951, so it’s safe to assume that they’ll bring their usual never-say-die attitude to proceedings.
But these Tyrone players will be going all out to win one of the biggest prizes, if not the biggest in Irish sport, and their in-form captain Padraig Hampsey knows that nothing else will suffice against Mayo anyway.
“It was a huge win against Kerry. They’d been going so well. They’d been so ruthless in front of goal and were showing that in their scorelines. So it was a massive win for us lads.
“As a collective unit we worked hard for each other. We got the turnovers and the scores, including the goals, at crucial times. It was a massive performance and we know we need to bring the same, if not more, on All-Ireland final day.”
Hampsey has done a great job since being named captain early in the year, but prefers to shun the limelight and has tunnel vision as far as Saturday’s All-Ireland final is concerned.
“I just try to keep the head down and stay away from everything else that is going on. There is a great buzz around training.
“Everyone was in great form on the first evening back after the Kerry game and we’re all putting our shoulder to the wheel to get ready. At the same time it is great to see the flags up and all the buzz around the local town, and hopefully we repay the faith of the supporters.”
“It’s a very proud moment for myself and for my family. When I was asked by Brian and Feargal at the start of the year to fulfill this role, it was a very proud moment. Thankfully we got across the line against a very strong Kerry side and we’re back in an All-Ireland final.”