All-Ireland Qualifiers: Tyrone will be mindful of midfield minefield
Tyrone manager Mickey Harte finds himself with an embarrassment of riches in attack and defence for tomorrow’s All-Ireland fourth round qualifier against Roscommon at Croke Park.
But midfield is a different matter, for while Sean Cavanagh and Kevin Hughes prospered in the win over Armagh last weekend they cannot expect the same latitude against Fergal O’Donnell’s beaten Connacht finalists.
In Karol Mannion and Michael Finneran, Roscommon have two aggressive competitors whose brief is to feed ace-finishers Donie Shine and Senan Kilbride.
Mannion has been a pillar of the Rossies side for several years and should he manage to supply Shine and Kilbride, undoubtedly they have the potential to do damage.
Kilbride, though, is still feeling the effects of a shoulder injury sustained in the Connacht final.
In tandem with the industrious Finneran, Mannion poses a threat to Tyrone’s midfield.
However with Peter Harte, Philip Jordan and perhaps Colm Cavanagh there to lend a hand in their engine-room in terms of snapping up break ball, Tyrone could claim ample possession.
Roscommon manager O’Donnell is refreshingly candid in assessing his team’s chances against opponents now seen as serious candidates for ‘Sam’.
“We played our league football in Division Four and you don’t get the chance to play against many All-Ireland winners and Allstars there,” reflects O’Donnell.
“This a big step up in class for us. The fact that the winners of this game will play Dublin will obviously be a big incentive for Tyrone as indeed it is for us.”
Roscommon play open football but their strategy could flounder against Tyrone’s rugged defence.
Conor Gormley, Philip Jordan, Joe McMahon and Ryan McMenamin are unlikely to yield much ground and if the Connacht men are forced to shoot from distance that could tell against them.
In contrast, Brian McGuigan looks capable of masterminding another cultured performance by the Tyrone forward line.
Mark Donnelly, Kyle Coney and Harte can stamp their imprint on this showdown because of their pace, control and finishing ability.
Tyrone have a better spread of scorers and the versatility they are showing is proving a big help in modifying strategy, even while games are in progress.
The Red Hands will remain unchanged from the side that beat Armagh.
Tyrone: P McConnell; R McMenamin, Joe McMahom, M Swift, S O’Neill, C Gormley, P Jordan, S Cavanagh, K Hughes,|C Cavanagh, B McGuigan, P Harte,|T McGuigan, M Donnelly, K Coney.