National Football League: McGeeney expects Tyrone to test his men
Kildare manager Kieran McGeeney’s penchant for speaking his mind may not always win him friends but it invariably earns him respect on the score of honesty.
Right now the single-minded McGeeney is preparing for one of the biggest tests of his managerial career in which he hopes his players will do the talking for him.
The Lily Whites, tucked in behind pacesetters Donegal in Division Two of the Allianz Football League, will confront Tyrone on Sunday at Healy Park, Omagh knowing that victory could ultimately prove their passport into Division One.
But McGeeney, aware that Tyrone’s three victories in the competition have earned them fresh respect, is treating the mission with extreme caution.
“There were people writing off Tyrone earlier but that was foolish. They have home advantage for this one and are always hard to beat at home,” insists McGeeney.
That did not prove to be the case against Donegal, of course, when the Red Hands were very much inferior to Jim McGuinness’s side.
But even though Justin McMahon and Enda McGinley will be unavailable for Sunday’s crucial tie, Mickey Harte’s side could have Philip Jordan back on the bench.
Jordan was Tyrone’s most consistent player last year, with his barnstorming performances at left-half-back.
With Sean Cavanagh, Kevin Hughes and Martin Penrose in particularly good form, Tyrone are not surprisingly fired up to make their own push for a Division One slot.
As a player with Armagh, McGeeney had many brushes with Tyrone but now he returns to the O’Neill county seeking to further enhance his credentials as a manager.
And Paddy O’Rourke, the man currently in charge of Armagh, will also hope to see his personal standing improve when his side confront Galway in Division One at the Athletic Grounds.
Armagh’s recent win over Mayo has triggered optimism that they can now secure their place in Division One for next term by making it a double success over their western opponents.