Dr McKenna Cup: Tyrone players out to beat Red Hands
Two Tyrone players are hoping to impress manager Mickey Harte tonight — by doing their best to heap embarrassment on the Red Hands.
Matthew Donnelly and Jason McAnulla will be in the UUJ attack that could pose a considerable threat to the Tyrone defence in an important Section A Dr McKenna Cup clash at Healy Park, Omagh.
The free-scoring pair are aware that impressive performances from them could persuade Harte to further consider their credentials as the season hots up.
But McAnulla speaks for both of them when he says: “We know that competition for places in the Tyrone forward line is very intense already. There are still players to come in so maybe by playing for UUJ we might have a better chance of catching the eye but that will certainly not be easy as Tyrone have been fielding many of their more experienced players.”
Physiotherapy student McAnulla turned his back on a professional soccer career with Hibs in Scotland to concentrate on club activity with Omagh St Enda’s and to pursue his ambition of gaining a place in the Tyrone side.
Like the in-form Donnelly, he sees tonight’s game as an opportunity to send out a message to the Red Hands management.
Donnelly turned in a man of the match performance for UUJ against Fermanagh last weekend. Despite being up against the formidable Barry Owens, he scored 1-3 from the full-forward berth and helped to manufacture other scores as the students battled to earn a deserved draw.
Trillick clubman Donnelly showed a rare turn of pace and excellent ball control as he complemented his finishing skills with a liberal dash of creative flair.
But he agrees with McAnulla that Tyrone will be much more formidable opponents tonight.
“Tyrone clearly are set on getting into the semi-finals but we are in with a decent chance.
“We have been without some of our top players of late but we have a few like Conor McManus back on board now.
“This is an important game for us.”
UUJ boss Adrian McGuckin was pleased with the fighting qualities which his players exhibited against Fermanagh but acknowledges that Tyrone in Omagh will be a different proposition.
“But we have faith in our own ability and will certainly be giving it our best shot,” adds McGuckin.