A CHANCE to kick-start their National League campaign brings with it the opportunity to improve on home fortunes for Tyrone when they take on Mayo this Sunday.
It’s a tie which the Red Hands have earmarked for special attention, even at this early stage of the season. The task of gaining two crucial points on the Division One table is being viewed with increasing importance following the fruitless trip to Kerry last weekend.
Team manager, Mickey Harte, and the players will no doubt relish the shorter journey. Nevertheless, a record of mixed fortunes against their Connacht opponents means that nothing can be taken for granted.
Ronan McNamee is now firmly established as the county’s first-choice full-back. He was among those who impressed against the Kingdom last weekend, and is anxious to make the most of home comforts on Sunday.
“We’ll be looking forward to Sunday’s game, not least the fact that we don’t have to travel six hours on a bus. It’s good to get a home game and get out on Healy Park.
“Our rivalry with Mayo is a strange one, because we beat them last year down in Castlebar and they defeated us the previous season up here and that’s the way things have been over the past few years.
“The challenge will be to rectify last week and get out of the blocks. They got the win over Roscommon on Saturday night in terrible conditions and I suppose it’s hard to take anything from that match.
“In fairness, they still got the job done, they will know that they’ve got a fairly good record in Omagh and will be coming here brimming with confidence.
“But we’ll just have to knuckle down as best we can. We’ll have to get the ball running ourselves because it’s important that we don’t let games pass us by.”
The Connacht side have, of course, been among the top teams in the country during the past decade, despite not having been able to win that elusive All-Ireland senior title.
An early exit from the championship last year means that they’ve returned for 2019 rejuvenated and anxious to make their mark.
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S STRABANE CHRONICLE…