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All Ireland Intermediate Semi-final Tyrone V Sligo Saturday at Kingspan Breffni

Friday 01.09.2017
Team Talk Mag
County


 

Tyrone are just sixty minutes away from Croke Park but for the players and manager Gerry Moane the focus will be fixed solely on Saturday’s semi-final clash with Sligo. It will be the toughest test either side faces this season with the Yeats girls keen to make amends for last season’s semi-final exit to Kildare.
In the quarter final Sligo edged past Roscommon in what turned out to be a sluggish affair. Two opportune goals from Denise McGrath proved key as Sligo advanced to the last four. In contrast Leitrim were blown away by a powerhouse Tyrone attack with 4-10 of their 4-16 tally coming from the full forward line. Fifteen points between the teams at the end with Leitrim, in spite of home advantage, unable to cope with the pace and power of the Red Hand girls on a wet sod.
Tyrone secured an opening day division two win over Sligo at Omagh. Since then however both teams have upped their fitness levels and the cutting edge of the championship is a different animal altogether. Several players have also emerged and Tyrone go into the game as well prepared as any Tyrone team could be.


This current Sligo squad oozes quality and experience. Team captain and goalkeeper Noelle Gormley, defenders Etna Flannigan and Grainne O’Loughlin aided by the talismanic Stephanie O’Reilly have all been key performers for the youngsters over the past year or so. However after wins in the provincial series over the Rossies and Leitrim and a second win over the Rossies in the quarter final there are still some unanswered questions about this bunch of players.
Tyrone are a team that requires no introduction to the big days either. An excellent mixture of youth and experience has now had two years together. They have gelled with the management who have shown they are not afraid to add a handful of the Ulster title winning minors into the mix. There certainly is quality about this Tyrone team and once again they bring so much pace to the game. The wide open spaces and dry sod of Breffni may just be what Tyrone need to really test an opponent and that could be a major factor in the outcome of this contest.
The Tyrone defence has a settled look and the midfield of Dunagnnon pairing of Meabh Mallon and Emma Jane Gervin also remain in situ. The management has toyed with a couple of options up front although Tyrone remain unchanged for this first all Ireland semi-final appearance since 2010. The squad is boosted by the return to fitness of the experienced Shannon Cunningham and she could well play a part at some stage.
Sligo start favourites and the pundits feel the loss in last year’s semi-final will stand the Yeats county in good stead for this Tyrone test. The winners face Tipperary at headquarters on September 24th. If Tyrone can produce the kind of form they are capable of they could well be marking that date in their diaries although as Moane has stated several times already this season it really is one game at a time.

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