Tyrone will feel heat against resurgent Kildare, warns McMahon
Tyrone's Joe McMahon has warned that the Red Hands need to be on their guard in this weekend's round three qualifier match against Kildare, after the Lilywhites turned in a hugely impressive finish to shake off Louth in the final quarter.
During the National League Tyrone defeated Kildare on their home ground, but McMahon says: "The Championship is different...it will be a tough task, especially down in Newbridge."
It will be Kildare's second game at their intimate Newbridge venue in a week and they are also preserving a record that they have never lost a qualifier game under Kieran McGeeney. This is the glamour tie of the round and it pits the two longest-serving inter-county managers in the game against each other in Mickey Harte, who took over Tyrone in the winter of 2002, and McGeeney, who was unveiled back in 2007.
Warning caution against a team that have rehabilitated themselves to an extent after their hammering in the Leinster semi-final against Dublin, McMahon said: "If you look at their track record, they finished very strong against Louth and in past games in Newbridge in the backdoor they have finished very strong. It's something we will have to look at in contrast to ourselves last week when we didn't finish strong. They will be aware of that."
It is a stroke of fortune, but still surprising nonetheless when you consider that Mickey Harte was in Newbridge to watch the Kildare V Louth game, and Derry manager Brian McIvor turned up at Breffni Park last Saturday to watch Cavan – the side Derry are paired with – defeat Fermanagh.
Looking further down the line, it seems inevitable that Derry or Cavan will play football in Croke Park this season as the future opposition in round four will be London, given that they are paired off against Mayo in the Connacht final.
Should Tyrone navigate a way past Kildare, they would play Meath; a county they have never beaten in Championship football.
However, that's for another day, McMahon insists.
"It goes back to the old cliche of 'one game at a time'. If you look at Meath yesterday they held Dublin well, but Dublin being Dublin, they came out at the start of the second half strong," he said.
"I think that if you start to think of past Kildare, the danger is you can take your eye off this game and it can affect you."
Tyrone might also feel aggrieved that they have been drawn away again in the qualifiers, but McMahon replies: "We are well used to it. Our last home game in the Championship was against Armagh in 2011.
"You are going to be meeting these teams eventually if you are going through the backdoor, it would serve you well for games further down the line."
Tyrone trained early on Sunday morning, but this was more to do with freeing up the rest of the day than combating the unusually balmy conditions, according to the Omagh St Enda's man.
"You look at the intensity of the Dublin V Meath final yesterday, the tempo it was played at, the heat didn't affect it too much.
"When you are playing, you are well-prepared in terms of your hydration and your diet. We have been acclimatised the last couple of weeks with the weather and because it is going to be hot over next weekend I am sure we will be well-prepared for it."
Round 3 (Home advantage applies)
Galway v Armagh; Wexford V Laois; Kildare V Tyrone; Derry V Cavan.
Round 4 (Neutral venues)
Galway/Armagh V Cork; Wexford/Laois v Losers of Donegal/Monaghan; Kildare/Tyrone V Meath; Derry/Cavan V Losers of Mayo/London.