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Red Hands tipped for lift-off after strong league push

 

Jason McGahan
Jason McGahan

By John Campbell

Tyrone have received backing from a rather unexpected quarter in advance of Saturday's crucial Allianz Football League meeting with All-Ireland champions Dublin at Croke Park (7.00pm).

Armagh man Jason McGahan, currently earning plaudits in his role as Kerry's Head of Athletic Performance, believes that the Red Hands are ideally placed to produce a strong finishing burst.

And McGahan, who has been setting the bar much higher for Kerry in terms of stamina and staying power, is convinced that this could prove an encouraging omen for their forthcoming championship campaign.

"I have been keeping an eye on Mickey Harte's team and the fact that they have won their last two matches against Monaghan and Cavan will send them in against Dublin in good heart," predicts McGahan.

"I actually think the league came too soon for Tyrone in one sense, but once they started getting players back they began to look more convincing.

"I think they will finish the league strongly and they will give Dublin plenty of problems."

McGahan is adamant that the return of players such as Kyle Coney, Connor McAliskey and Richie Donnelly, plus the fact that Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte in particular are showing superb form, augurs well for Tyrone's chances.

Certainly Coney's return has added an extra spark to the attack, while McAliskey has also looked particularly sharp of late.

While McAliskey started last year's All-Ireland decider against the Dubs, Coney was conspicuous by his absence.

Now the Ardboe clubman is keen to make up for lost time in the county colours and this could be his chance to do precisely that on Saturday night as the Red Hands bid to avenge last year's setback against Jim Gavin's side in the biggest match of the year.

And while Ritchie Donnelly has impressed since being drafted into the midfield zone, the combined talents of Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte have had much to do with Tyrone's recent renaissance.

Donnelly has been roving to great effect both in defence and attack, while Harte's polished finishing skills have seen him climb up the scoring charts.

The 28-year-old Errigal Ciaran clubman has produced eye-catching displays against both Monaghan and Cavan and he could prove a key figure in Tyrone's bid to unlock a resolute Dublin defence.

McGahan adds: "I think the side as a whole is hitting form at just the right time."

Kerry are sitting at the top of the table and are certain to reach the final, while Dublin, Mayo and Galway are locked on six points beneath them.

A win for Tyrone would not only alleviate relegation fears but could thrust the side into the frame for a place in the final.

Belfast Telegraph

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