Harte relying on Tyrone's old hands
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte is hoping that the senior citizens in his full-forward line carry their current rich vein of form into Sunday week’s National Football League Division One contest against their great rivals Kerry.
Stephen O’Neill (0-8), Sean Cavanagh (0-4) and Owen Mulligan (1-1) contributed 1-13 of Tyrone’s total of 1-18 against Dublin in their opening round win on Saturday last but Harte is aware that Kerry, under new manager Jack O’Connor, will travel to Omagh anxious to gain some measure of revenge for last year’s All Ireland final setback.
O’Connor discovered to his cost that Tyrone held the whip hand over the Kingdom while he was in charge previously and has yet to obtain a meaningful victory over Harte’s side.
Kerry, of course, require no reminding of the massive threat the current Tyrone front three form to their current hopes not just of making an early impression in the National League but of reclaiming the Sam Maguire Cup further along the line.
O’Neill (pictured) has scored a total of fifteen points in his last two games while Cavanagh is still strongly influential at full-forward with Mulligan clearly having shown against Dublin that he has rediscovered his competitive edge.
“There is no doubt that we have quality in our full-forward line but then Kerry have plenty of class in their side. If we can maintain our scoring ratio, we should have a chance of doing something,” says Harte.
He clearly relishes the visit of Kerry to Healy Park for what promises to be a bonanza tie.
“Obviously it’s good to be at home against a team like Kerry. They have a lot of options and we know that they will have nothing less than a win in their sights, particularly after their impressive performance against Donegal at the weekend,” he said.
Having already overcome Dublin, albeit with extreme difficulty in the end, Tyrone are in just the right frame of mind to take on the Kingdom.
“I think that win over the Dubs has pepped us up a little further. I said before the game that we had been showing signs of improvement after a tepid start to January and this is way it panned out. But Kerry will be fired up for this game — there should be a big crowd and a very good atmosphere,” adds Harte.
He could find himself confronted with one or two options in defence, too. Conor Gormley, married in mid-January, may be back in the frame which means that Ryan McMenamin would move to his more familiar role at right-full-back.
Aidan Cassidy did enough on his National League debut against the Dubs to merit another chance alongside Enda McGinley at midfield but Brian Dooher and Brian McGuigan are unlikely to see League action for some weeks yet.