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Mickey Harte adamant trip to Roscommon a must-win for Tyrone

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has hammered home the importance of this weekend's trip to Roscommon as the Red Hands seek their first league points of the season.

"It was always going to be a huge game for us anyway, regardless, because it's a home game for them and people are supposed to do well at home," he laughed, given Tyrone's last performance in Healy Park when they fell to Mayo.

"I think we should play our 'home' games in Castlebar against Mayo and they can play theirs here, because we seem to do better when we're away at each other's venue.

"But that's where it's at. Every game is so important in Division One because you really are going to be in the relegation zone or pointing towards the top of the table, depending on how you do.

"Life is so much easier when you are looking at the top of the table. When you are at the bottom every ball counts, every bounce counts. From here on in that's what we have to deal with - every single bounce of the ball will be critical."

Tyrone have missed a cutting edge and Harte says it will be a while before Connor McAliskey is back from his ankle injury.

"He hasn't taken part in full training yet, so he has a bit of catching up to do. That's one thing. The next thing is match practice as well. It's not a question of somebody getting over an injury and being able to walk back into the team; they have to get some match practice, whether that be in our training games or whatever.

"He hasn't really taken part in much of that just yet so he still has a bit of time away."

They will also be without Colm Cavanagh for the time being.

"We can't lose a two-time All-Star and not notice it. Something would be very wrong if that was the case. Obviously, his experience and the way he plays for us, we're certainly missing that badly," said Harte.

"He had an ear operation that he had to get done, something he got damaged earlier last year. He had to get it done in case it would get any worse."

Roscommon recovered from an opening day defeat to Mayo to shock Monaghan in the last round and there are signs they have managed to plug a previously leaky defence that Tyrone historically were able to breach.

Elsewhere, fellow relegation strugglers Cavan are away to Mayo in Castlebar and given the Connacht side's good form, it seems Mickey Graham's start will continue in this painful vein.

Monaghan are at home to Galway and are taking that game to the well-appointed venue of Inniskeen. After falling to Roscommon, they will be keen to get their second win of the campaign with some big tests ahead.

Division Two is proving typically tight this season with Armagh and Fermanagh both drawing their opening two games.

Armagh have to face Meath in Navan tomorrow, with the home team smarting from letting a possible victory over Donegal slip due to a goalkeeping howler in the last game.

Donegal, the beneficiaries of that slip, are sitting pretty at the top of the division and looking almost certain to go straight back up to the top flight.

They make the long trip to Tipperary and while they are trying out plenty of youngsters in this campaign, the performance levels have not dipped and others are emerging as real leaders.

Fermanagh have their second home game of the campaign tonight, when they entertain Kildare in Brewster Park in a repeat of last year's qualifier.

Belfast Telegraph

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