Kerry come calling

Frank Burns is turning his attentions to Kerry after helping Tyrone defeat Mayo.

EMERGING Tyrone talent Frank Burns has ruled out the notion that Sunday’s final National League game of the season against Kerry is any sort of ‘dead rubber’.

Both the Red Hands and the Kingdom staved off any lingering relegation concerns with victories last weekend, rendering the outcome of their Healy Park clash redundant when it comes to the eventual shake-up at the foot of the Division One table.

While Kerry dealt with Kildare in fairly routine, if unspectacular, fashion on Saturday night, Tyrone subsequently made light of an onerous looking assignment away to Mayo the following day, emerging from Castlebar with a resounding 2-14 to 0-8 triumph.

Sparkling goals in either half from Lee Brennan and Conal McCann embellished what was a highly impressive and enterprising showing from Mickey Harte’s men, and the adventurous sorties from deep by Frank Burns was another positive element of the afternoon for the visitors.

Tyrone have moved onto six points in the table, so securing their top flight status for next season, and leaving both Mayo and Donegal below them to lock horns this Sunday to see who will fall through the relegation trapdoor alongside Kildare.

Last weekend’s outcomes inevitably will take some of the edge off Kerry’s trip into Omagh but according to Burns Tyrone still won’t be wanting in terms of motivation or desire, given the heated and intense rivalry which has sprung up between the counties over the last two decades.

He is also keen to atone for recent league reversals to Eamon Fitzmaurice’s side, and so make Healy Park a difficult venue for opponents once again.

“Any day you play Kerry, you want to go out and win, especially on our home patch. Kerry have come to Omagh in years gone by and probably thought it wasn’t a hard place to come to and win.

“So we have said to ourselves this year that we want to make Omagh a fortress, and make it that anybody that comes to our home patch are going to have to really fight for a victory. And it will be no different with Kerry.”

One of the most encouraging aspects of their most recent victory over Mayo at McHale Park was the manner in which Tyrone took their two goals, the players demonstrating a ruthless touch when one of one with the keeper which hasn’t always been there of late.

Burns felt it owed much to the diligent work being carried out behind the scenes by former attacking maestro Stephen O’Neill, now part of the backroom team

“They were very good finishes, and we are creating more goal chances, and getting more goals, which is what we want. That’s what Stephen O’Neill is in for this year, to help give us that sort of attacking threat.

“Stevie, along with Mickey and Peter Donnelly and Horse are all putting in the work on the training ground. Stevie has been doing his offensive drills and they are starting to come into play a bit more, and it’s showing.”

That said Burns refused to get too carried away with the Mayo result, on what was a wretched day for the westerners who lost the services of four key men, through injury or ill-discipline in the first half an hour.

“It’s always a good day if you beat Mayo. It was a good win, we played well, but we’ll not look too much into it. It’s only the league, and Mayo’s a different kettle of fish come the championship.

“We’ve one more game now against Kerry and after that it’s Monaghan in the Championship in another six or seven weeks. We’ll just look towards this Kerry game next and hope to finish well, and then we’ll look to Monaghan after that.”

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