Ulster title may prove vital in Sam glory bid, says Ryan McMenamin
Tyrone defender Ryan McMenamin is particularly relieved that his side have managed to avoid the back door route in the All Ireland Championship this year.
The Dromore clubman always felt from the outset that the qualifiers would throw up some very strong candidates for the Sam Maguire Cup and he believes that the draw for the quarter-finals has now provided ample confirmation of his theory.
“I just had this notion that the qualifiers would be an extremely difficult road to go down this year and that’s why I was delighted that we were able to win back-to-back Ulster titles and avoid it,” said McMenamin (pictured below).
“When you look at teams that fell in the qualifiers like Galway, Mayo, Armagh, Derry and Monaghan you just know that it was a real minefield.
“Now we are going in against a Dublin side that have regained their confidence and belief after their Leinster semi-final defeat by Meath and they are going to be very difficult to beat.”
Dublin’s qualifier wins over Armagh and Louth have allowed them to regain their foothold on the ladder to ‘Sam’ and have also served to provide manager Pat Gilroy with interesting options for the showdown with Mickey Harte’s men.
McMenamin, well accustomed to high-intensity games in Croke Park, stresses that the Dubs will see this weekend’s glamour tie as “the real test” of their credentials.
“We always knew that we were going to get a tough challenge in the quarter-finals and that’s why we kept our celebrations to the bare minimum after that Ulster final win,” says McMenamin.
“Even after beating Monaghan that day we left Clones knowing that we had a lot more work to do if we wanted to progress further in the All Ireland series.”
And he is adamant that Dublin will ask big questions of the Red Hands because of their all-consuming desire to end their 15-year All Ireland title famine.
“They are going to be up for this one, make no mistake about that,” points out McMenamin.