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Newbridge hurdle will be hard for Tyrone to cross, says McNamee

 

Real test: Ronan McNamee knows Kildare are quality side
Real test: Ronan McNamee knows Kildare are quality side
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Much has been made recently of what is perceived to be Tyrone's more adventurous attacking policy but full-back Ronan McNamee sounds a timely word of warning ahead of tomorrow's sell-out All-Ireland Round Three qualifier against rejuvenated Kildare at St Conleth's Park, Newbridge (5.00pm).

In beating Longford in their opening qualifier last weekend the Red Hands conceded 1-14 while in their Ulster Championship dismissal to Donegal they leaked 1-16 meaning in their last two matches the team has conceded 2-30.

"I've always been blessed to be part of a strong side. I think if we have our own house in order, no matter who the opposition is, we would be confident of beating them," maintains McNamee.

"While we are keen to rack up good scores we know that we cannot afford to concede too much."

In tandem with the team's more positive approach, the mantra now is that scoring more than the opposition is a priority but manager Mickey Harte is certain to invoke an element of safety first tomorrow.

And not without good reason, either.

His side will come up against a Kildare outfit that contains a number of players who were there for at least part of Kieran McGeeney's reign as manager and as such are vastly experienced in championship warfare.

In the handsome 1-25 to 0-14 win over Antrim last weekend, Aidan Tyrrell and Neil Flynn scored 15 points between them while Peter Kelly, Tommy Moolick, Eoghan O'Flaherty, Mick O'Grady and David Hyland are among the more senior members of the side who can bring their experience into play.

It was after losing their first two games in the Allianz League that Tyrone decided to deploy the versatile Cathal McShane at full-forward with skipper Mattie Donnelly cast in a supporting role and Peter Harte completing what has since proven a formidable attacking trio.

The Red Hands' reliance on first-time deliveries into McShane in particular paid handsome dividends up until the championship match against Donegal when Declan Bonner's side came up with all the answers to their opponents' attacking wiles.

While Harte has not quite gone back to the drawing board, he is nonetheless acutely conscious that his side cannot afford to err on the side of generosity in relation to the leaking of scores tomorrow.

"While you may not stick to playing in one particular way all the time, you certainly don't want to be conceding scores. Now that we find ourselves in the qualifiers, we have to make good of it," states Harte.

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