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Sharp-shooter McAliskey wants to get an edge over Derry

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone sharp-shooter Connor McAliskey has admitted that the Red Hands' drive for five consecutive Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cups can help his side's bid to exert their superiority over Derry ahead of later National League and Championship meetings.

He believes that he and his team-mates will be looking to "put on a show and beat teams you're going to be playing later in the year".

Mickey Harte's men meet the Oak Leafers in tomorrow night's final at The Athletic Grounds (throw-in 7.30pm) seeking to beat their cross-Sperrins neighbours for the third time in two months, after victory in the O'Fiaich Cup and the McKenna Cup group stages.

They will also come up against each other on March 5 in the League at Omagh and in May in the Ulster Championship at Celtic Park.

"May will be May. Both teams will improve a lot before then," insisted McAliskey.

"The previous games won't have much of an impact on what happens on the day. But you want to put on a show and beat teams you're going to be playing later in the year.

"It shows that if we can beat them now and we improve and they improve, hopefully we'll still be one step ahead of them when May comes, and on Saturday."

No team has ever won five McKenna Cups on the bounce, highlighting the emphasis that Tyrone place on it. It's not something they shy away from saying either.

"The McKenna Cup is a big thing for us," said Clonoe forward McAliskey.

"We are building towards the league and every man coming in is fighting for a place in the league squad. And there's no point playing a game of football if you're not going out to win so we will be going out and pushing for a victory.

"I think the McKenna Cup brings you on a step and gives you a feel for it. The McKenna Cup has helped us as a team over the years."

With his club, McAliskey has been under the wing of Derry All-Ireland winner Damian Cassidy, and has cited him as a major influence on his career.

He explained: "Damian has managed me since 2011 at club level. In 2011 and 2012, he helped me big time.

"He's a good man to man manager and looks at where you're weak at your game and makes changes at training to make you into a better player."

Belfast Telegraph


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