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Tyrone ready to light way ahead in League opener

By John Campbell

Two Ulster teams will help launch the 2007 Allianz National Football League on Saturday February 3 - but they won't be facing each other.

While Donegal face the long journey to face Munster champions Cork under the Pairc Ui Rinn floodlights, Tyrone and Dublin will go head to head in a mouth-watering clash at Croke Park, the first major inter-county game to be scheduled for Headquarters under floodlights.

For Tyrone manager Mickey Harte, this will be an early opportunity to fire an early warning in a championship context but manager Mickey Harte preaches caution.

"Obviously the fixture will have appeal but it must be considered that we expect to be still without some key players. People like Brian Dooher, Brian McGuigan, Colin Holmes and others are unlikely to be with us in the early part of 2007 but we will still be very keen to make progress in the league," asserts Harte.

With teams now under pressure to finish as high up the pecking order as they can in order to attain respectable placings when the new four-section format is devised in 2008, managers expect that the competition will be much more keen.

In the past a number of teams have used the National League for experimental purposes but it seems likely that team bosses will be keen to see their teams emerge quickly from the starting blocks.

Ulster champions Armagh will face Kildare on Sunday February 4 in what will be an attractive tie.

And there will certainly be plenty of interest in the Louth v Down tie given that the 'Wee County' are the reigning Division 2 champions and holders of the Tommy Murphy Cup.

Fermanagh have a home game against Limerick which should afford them the chance to make a winning start while Derry boss Paddy Crozier will take his side to Galway for a game that looks to have plenty of appeal.

Belfast Telegraph


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