Tyrone will fight back into All Ireland contention, predicts Donegal ace
Tyrone have received a boost from an unexpected source as they prepare to take on Kildare in Round Three of the All-Ireland Football Qualifiers on Saturday at St Conleth's Park, Newbridge (5.00pm).
While Red Hands fans are keeping their fingers crossed in the hope of seeing their team make further progress, Donegal midfield ace Hugh McFadden is in no doubt that Mickey Harte's side are destined to participate in the concluding stages of the All-Ireland series.
McFadden played a key role in despatching Tyrone from the Ulster Championship when he ruled the midfield in the semi-final, as well as finding time to fulfil his ancillary role as sweeper.
But if Tyrone's provincial title hopes bit the dust on that occasion, McFadden does not believe that they will be deflected from their goal of reaching the last four in the race to the title.
"There is a lot of talk doing the rounds but we won't be getting carried away," insists McFadden.
"While much has been made of our win over Tyrone, I think people underestimated the quality of opposition we met in our first game against Fermanagh and then afterwards in the game against Tyrone.
"They both competed very well against us."
But it's on the subject of Tyrone's chances of finishing their season on a high that McFadden speaks with what can only be described as utter conviction.
"Listen, we know that Tyrone are a top, top team. We had to work very, very hard against them and they are not going to be too far away when the title race is being decided. They have already beaten Longford in the qualifiers and they will be very much up for meeting Kildare on Saturday.
"Not too many people will be betting against them making further progress," declares McFadden.
The midfield dynamo believes that Donegal's capture of the scalps of Fermanagh, Tyrone and Cavan in winning their second consecutive Ulster title will weigh in their favour going into the Super8s.
"But there's no chance that we will be getting anything easy," insists McFadden.
"We had to get to a high level to overcome Cavan, so we have to go out now and challenge ourselves again.
"I know it's a cliché but any day you get a chance to fulfil a role within this Donegal side you take it with both hands. Against Tyrone I was asked to do a wee job but the players up the field put a bit of pressure on their opposite numbers and made my job that little bit easier."
Kildare will go into battle on Saturday against the Red Hands having overcome Antrim by a 14-point margin last Saturday and, while McFadden has the height of respect for Cian O'Neill's side, he feels that Tyrone's cohesion and experience will carry them through.
"I know that nothing can be taken for granted but don't bet against Tyrone," urges McFadden.