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McAliskey sure Tyrone will click as they seek to get on the board

By Declan Bogue

With two losses from their opening two games, Tyrone realise they have a battle on their hands to remain in the top flight.

They are away to Kildare tomorrow, and follow that up with another trip - this time to Castleblayney to face Monaghan.

Their remaining games are at home to Donegal, away to Mayo and home to Kerry in the final game of the league programme.

The main charge levelled against their failings has been their attack malfunctioning. They managed just 0-3 from play against Galway and while a more adventurous approach was rewarded with 1-7 in the first half against Dublin, they hit eight wides in the second period as the All-Ireland champions locked down their defence.

It's something that has puzzled attacker Connor McAliskey, who believes the Red Hands are getting there.

"We knew what we wanted to do going forward in the first half (against Dublin). I know people think we are defensive, but I don't think we were defensive, no more so than what Dublin played," he reasoned.

"But Dublin changed their structure, they went more defensive. But if Tyrone had have done what Dublin had done, there would have been talk about it."

Meanwhile, there will be an interesting clash of styles when Kerry come to the cosy confines of Inniskeen tomorrow. So far, the Kingdom are averaging 21 points per game, while hosts Monaghan are less than prolific with 12 as their average.

The other game involving an Ulster side in Division One is Donegal taking on Dublin.

So far, Declan Bonner's men have had a tough start, losing their opening fixtures to fellow western seaboard men Kerry and Galway. Red cards have cost them in both games.

Anything other than a Dublin win would be a shock.

In Division Two, Down are on the road after last week's poor showing which ended in a six-point defeat to Cork, with their main attacker Connaire Harrison dismissed in injury-time and therefore missing out this time.

Cavan have confounded expectations with an unbeaten record, their last-gasp score earning a point on the road to Clare, before their thumping of Louth last Saturday night.

They come up against neighbours Meath in a clash that is sure to get the sap rising along the border, and while both teams have identical records, home advantage should prove a factor back in Kingspan Breffni Park.

Only Offaly's dreadful scoring difference is keeping pointless Derry off the bottom of Division Three, and the two go head-to-head in Celtic Park tomorrow knowing a win - providing Wexford lose to Westmeath - can help them out of the relegation zone.

Something has got to give for either Armagh or Longford this weekend as both teams put their 100% records on the line in the Athletic Grounds.

Kieran McGeeney's men have been flying with opening wins over Sligo and Westmeath and Ethan Rafferty has been shining at full-forward in the absence of Stefan Campbell and Jamie Clarke.

Fermanagh are the third team in Division Three to have enjoyed an unblemished record so far, with wins over Wexford and Offaly in Brewster Park.

Manager Rory Gallagher would acknowledge that the fixtures have favoured them but they have a test of mettle when they make the short journey to Sligo tomorrow.

However, given Sligo's concession rate of scores at 19.5 points per game is almost twice that of Fermanagh's - 10 - then all the indicators are that Fermanagh will remain top of the table.

Finally, Antrim are one of three sides in Division Four - the others being Laois and Carlow - who are guarding a 100% record as they welcome Wicklow to Corrigan Park tomorrow.

The Whiterock Road venue has become something of a fortress for Antrim in recent years, and Wicklow may offer little resistance after being soundly beaten in London last weekend by the Exiles.

Belfast Telegraph


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