Ronan McNamee has warned that Tyrone this weekend will face a wounded Cork side still licking their wounds after an embarrassing collapse on home soil in the recent Munster Final.
The Red Hands are strong favourites to account for the Rebels in Saturday’s Round 4 Qualifier at Portlaoise, much of that rationale
based on Cork’s woeful showing against fierce rivals Kerry in their provincial showdown a fortnight ago.
Ronan McCarthy’s charges emerged on the wrong end of a 3-18 to 2-4 thumping at a sun-kissed Pairc Ui Chaoimh, with the Kingdom running riot over the course of an alarmingly one-sided encounter.
However Tyrone defender McNamee has cautioned against any complacency, and pointed up Cork’s fine track record against the Red Hands in both league and championship as reason to be apprehensive heading into O’Moore Park.
“ Cork didn’t do themselves justice in the Munster final although it has to be said that they came up against a very good Kerry side. They
have a good record against Tyrone and they certainly won’t fear us.
“ Our track record against them wouldn’t be that good. They beat us handy enough a couple of times in the league in Omagh while we drew
with them a few years ago in Cork. They are always very tough opponents and are always strong and physical and full of pace.”
The Aghyaran ace was in the stands the last time that the two counties locked horns in the All-Ireland Championship some nine years ago in the semi-final, when the Rebels toppled the then reigning champions after a thrilling and vibrant display.
“ I was at Croke Park that day as a spectator and the one thing that stood out to me that day was the pace with which they played the game,
especially their half forwards. Tyrone were defending All Ireland champions that day but Cork deserved to win and it was almost like a
changing of the guard because they may have lost in the final that year but came back twelve months later to beat Down and win the Sam
Tyrone accounted for Cavan in energy sapping conditions at sun-drenched Enniskillen last Saturday, when they were forced to dig deep
to chisel out a result after withstanding a gritty Breffni fightback.
McNamee feels that inspite of the stiffling conditions, the Red Hands will be in fine fettle to take to the Championship stage again this
weekend, and doesn’t believe that Cork’s additional recuperation period will have any real bearing on the match.
“ They have had two weeks to prepare for this game so they are bound to be fresh. Both sides though only found out the draw on Monday so we have had the same time to prepare for each other.
“ No doubt they have trained hard in those two weeks but at the same time we have had a couple of competitive games which is every bit as
good and fingers crossed we have come through those without any injuries and are looking forward to Saturday.”