CONOR Meyler insists that Tyrone can’t afford to be a ‘one trick pony’ in terms of their attacking strategy heading into the summer Championship campaign.
The Red Hands won many new admirers during the back-end of the league for developing a more expansive and direct kicking game to compliment their possession-based running style of recent years.
The introduction of the attacking mark facilitated this switch in emphasis, though that experimental rule has been parked again for the Championship.
However speaking ahead of Sunday’s Ulster opener against Derry Conor Meyler believes that Tyrone’s play must continue to adapt and evolve to meet new challenges.
“There’s no point in dropping things that work well for us. It’s nice that we have that variation, and I’m sure Derry will have spent a lot of time looking at how we have played, finishing the league strong.
“And the long ball, the high ball, was definitely one factor. I suppose you can’t be a one-trick pony either. We have the long ball option, but we also have a low ball option, so it will hopefully keep teams guessing.”
Tyrone head into Sunday’s contest at Healy Park as massive favourites to progress to a first round meeting against Antrim but history, suggests Meyler, dictates that the hosts must be on their guard.
“I suppose the same happened in ’06. Tyrone came off the back of winning the All-Ireland in ’05 and there was a bit of an ambush in Healy Park. Derry pipped them in the first round.
“We have to expect the unexpected, that we’re not walking into an ambush, that we’re prepared for what Derry can bring, and that on their day they’re very, very good. The spine of their team is strong, with a lot of Slaughtneil players this year, and it’s going to make things tricky.
“But at the same time we’re confident that we’re not going to walk into this ambush. We’re expecting Derry to be better this year than they have been years before when we have played them. But we’re looking forward to a good test. We know Derry are off the back of a good league campaign, but we finished the campaign strong ourselves, so we’re all mad keen to get the Championship up and running after a good enough finish to the League.”
While Tyrone are desperate this season to go one step further that last year, when they came up short against all-conquering Dublin in the All-Ireland Final, Meyler stresses that it would be disrespectful to look beyond their immediate opponents.
“The first round is the toughest probably. In some cases you’re off the back of a number of club games. We have had five club games and it’s five weeks since the Galway game.
“We gathered a bit of momentum in the League, and it has served us well playing week on week. And week on week served us well last year in the back door.
“But the first one is tough, trying to get back into gear again. Last year (vs Monaghan) we were pipped, and we were very disappointed at that. In hindsight, it actually worked out pretty well, but this year we want to be going the front door route, trying to win Ulster.
“If you don’t treat those teams with respect in the first round, that’s where you can get caught with complacency. Our only focus at the minute is Derry, getting back into the swing of things, getting game on game, getting a bit of momentum, and you’d like to think the end process will come with those performances.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S PAPER