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Dublin's first All-Ireland visit to Omagh is creating a major buzz

 

By Declan Bogue

After comprehensively marching past a feeble Cork challenge in round four of the All-Ireland qualifiers at the weekend, Tyrone have paved the way to possibly the most attractive Championship match they will have ever played at home.

Making the All-Ireland quarter-finals for the 14th time in the 18 seasons of the set-up has gained them passage to the new Super 8s system, where the teams are split into two groups of four to leave a quartet standing for the semi-finals.

This Saturday, Tyrone will face Roscommon in Croke Park (5pm) - but the week after will see a ticket frenzy as they host Dublin in Healy Park, Omagh for the first ever time in the All-Ireland Championship.

Their remaining game will be against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Red Hands' All-Star midfielder Colm Cavanagh said: "The new system is going to bring new ideas and new approaches.

"There's going to be a lot of excitement with it and unknowns, a lot of unknowns. Dublin are coming to Omagh for the first time for a Championship game, that's unbelievable.

"The place will be rocking that day but at the same time that's down the line.

"It's an exciting few weeks ahead but we still have to do the business."

Those sentiments were echoed by team captain Matthew Donnelly, who said: "It's history in the making. It's the first year of this concept and we were so eager not to be watching on with other teams playing in it. We're there.

"There's a buzz about it being built up at this stage as well, thank God we're there and in the mix and in with a chance. We're looking forward to it."

Tyrone have undergone a transformation since their first-round Ulster Championship exit to Monaghan, during which Mark Bradley, Cavanagh, Lee Brennan and Tiernan McCann were all replaced through injury, while Peter Harte earned a straight red card for a strike.

Eclipsing Cork by 16 points is the kind of form they were looking for and Donnelly pointed out the ability within the squad.

He said: "Nearly every man on that panel has proved themselves to be the best in Ireland at some grade, be it Sigerson, Minor or U21 football. We've done that before so we definitely have a belief there.

"But the belief is in seven other changing rooms around the country now, so it's just about who performs on the day."

One of the misgivings about the Super 8s system, with three games in four weeks coming off the back of four games in five for Tyrone, is that it will test the depth of county panels, but Donnelly feels the Red Hands have no worries on that front.

"You see operators like Collie (Cavanagh) and Petey (Harte) after the first day getting sent off and missing the next day, Tiernan McCann and those boys, then you've a number of boys who are featuring prominently coming on from the subs bench as well," he said.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Slaughtneil - the reigning Derry and Ulster Club champions - parted ways with manager Terence McWilliams over the weekend.

The Kilrea man took over from Mickey Moran in April, but his departure has come just three months later.

An interim management team has been put in place, comprising Padraig Kelly, Fergal McEldowney, Willie Hampson and Co McEldowney.

Belfast Telegraph

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