Tyrone must show their full potential in final: Harte
The possibility that two Allianz Football League divisional titles could come to Ulster has further fired enthusiasm in advance of the provincial senior football championship.
With the Division Two title certain to head northwards given that Tyrone and Cavan will contest Sunday’s final at Croke Park, Antrim are hoping to provide the perfect aperitif for this showdown by claiming the Division Four crown when they face Louth tomorrow.
Tyrone boss Mickey Harte has already intimated that his side yearn to get their hands on the Ulster Championship title again — their last triumph was in 2010 — so the scene is set for what should prove a titanic tussle with a Cavan team that has nudged its way into the provincial title reckoning.
Harte saw his side beaten by Kerry in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final (0-18 to 1-11) after they had looked to be on the verge of a place in the final entering the last 10 minutes of the contest.
That proved a particularly chastening experience for the Red Hands and, as they prepare to return to Headquarters, the three-time All-Ireland winning boss reiterates his view that unless his squad can reveal their best form, then success could still perhaps prove elusive.
“It looks like the team has the potential to be strong but you have to go out and do that on important days,” insists Tyrone boss Harte.
“Until the season goes on a bit and we see these players who aren’t in the first XV coming in on any given day and establishing themselves and making a difference, then you could conclude that we are becoming better.”
“It’s a potential thing at the minute. You couldn’t put the reality stamp on that just yet.
“We are mindful that we drew our last two matches in the league and that Cavan will be going to Croke Park on Sunday buoyed by a good run in the league during which they have offered impressive performances.
“Obviously it’s heartening to see three Ulster counties in the frame for league honours and that augers well for the game here but there is still much work to be done,” said the Tyrone boss.
Meanwhile, Antrim will then have three weeks in which to fine-tune their preparations for the Ulster Championship preliminary round fixture against Fermanagh at Brewster Park, Enniskillen on May 15.
Joint manager Gearoid Adams makes it clear that tomorrow’s clash with Louth is viewed as “extremely important” in the team’s build-up.
“To be getting a game at Croke Park at this juncture is, to our way of thinking, extremely important.
“The whole mood in our camp is just superb at the minute with the boys chomping at the bit to see action against Louth.”
“This is a game we are particularly keen to win both in terms of cementing morale and honing our strategy.
“We drew with Louth a few weeks ago but there is a lot of stake tomorrow and the players know that championship places will be up for grabs.”
“I know some counties are complaining about the time lapse between the completion of their league programmes and the start of their involvement in the Championship but for us it’s very much a case of being flat to the mat.”
Tyrone: M O’Neill; A McCrory, R McNamee, C McCarron; R Brennan, Justin McMahon, T McCann; C Cavanagh, M Donnelly; N Sludden, M Bradley, R Donnelly; C McAliskey, S Cavanagh, R O’Neill.