TYRONE will play their first home match in the Ulster Senior Championship in four seasons next summer as they begin their quest for three Anglo-Celts in a row against Monaghan.
The first round clash at Healy Park against the Farney County was undoubtedly the tie of the round when the draw for the 2018 Provincial Football Championships took place in the studios of RTE in Dublin last Thursday night.
While the Red Hands have tended to get the better of Malachy O’Rourke’s battle hardened troops in the All-Ireland phase of the Championship at Croke Park over the last decade, it was Monaghan who took the spoils by a single point the last time the two counties locked horns in an Ulster First Round collision in 2014.
That was also the last season in which Tyrone hosted an Ulster Championship match in Omagh (the preliminary round vs Down). Since that meeting with the Mourne men they have been on their travels for ten successive matches in Ulster (six of those played at Clones, two at Celtic Park and one each at Newry and Ballybofey).
The winners of the Tyrone vs Monaghan blockbuster will then face either Fermanagh or Armagh in the semi-finals.
With the introduction of the new round robing Super 8 Format for the All-Ireland Championship in 2018, there is an added incentive for teams to target a Provincial title, with the winners guaranteed at least three glamour games under the new arrangement.
For the losers though there is the onerous prospect of playing seven gruelling matches (in the Qualifiers and then Super 8) just to reach an All-Ireland Semi-Final.
The 2018 Ulster SFC draw is as follows:
Donegal vs Cavan
Fermanagh vs Armagh
Tyrone vs Monaghan
Down vs Antrim
Derry vs Donegal or Cavan