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Tyrone Hurlers Commence League Challenge.
Sunday 13th February
At 2:30PM in Omagh
Referee – Fergus Smith
Tyrone’s senior hurlers commence their Division Four NHL campaign this weekend, when they entertain Leitrim, at Healy Park and following some encouraging signs in recent weeks, they will be hoping to make a winning start.
2010 will hardly rank as one of the county’s most successful periods. Some humiliating defeats and, an evident lack of effort from the players meant Tyrone only registered one victory from a ten game programme. That came against Cavan in the opening round of the Ulster Championship, while they were on the receiving end of humiliating National League defeats against Fingal, Roscommon and Wicklow with Donegal and Louth also posting wins against the Red Hands in Omagh.
It was a disappointing campaign following the highs of the previous year during which the county celebrated an inaugural Lory Meagher Cup success, in Croke Park. Throw in the success of Carrickmore and Naomh Colum Cille in reaching Provincial finals at Intermediate and Junior level respectively and, one can clearly see that Tyrone failed to make any progress on the Inter County stage in 2010.
However, what happened in 2010 is now well and truly consigned to the history books and, with a new season looming on the horizon this weekend comes with new hopes, ambitions and objectives. Those factors when combined with a desire to succeed means Tyrone have every opportunity to prove there is a healthy hurling pedigree within County.
Tyrone will embark on the new season under a new managerial team as Lavey’s Tom Magill has replaced Tony Fawl at the helm. The Derry Native has brought in Tommy Stevenson to improve the County’s fitness levels and, he appears to have set out his stall for the year ahead.
The team have been going through their paces in promising fashion and, while Leitrim will prove to be a very tough opening round examination confidence within the camp is high that Tyrone can make a positive start to the season in what is going to be a very competitive Division Four League campaign. Tyrone are also due to meet Ulster rivals Cavan, South Down and Fermanagh with Longford completing the group.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s opening round fixture new manager Tom Magill stated. “We are realistic to know that we are coming in on the back of a very poor campaign. Commitment has been a problem for Tyrone over the years, but I believe that with the right approach that can be solved. There is enough ability within Tyrone to compete, at a higher level and, for me it is all about getting the best out of the players.”
Preparations for Sunday‘s opening fixture have gone well with the team enjoying three very competitive and run outs against Monaghan, UUJ and Coleraine. They were well tested in all three of those games with victory over UUJ helping them build confidence ahead of the visit of Leitrim.
Magill has assembled a strong looking panel, but with such a low key approach to this weekend’s NHL opener, it is very difficult to assess the strength of the current Tyrone team. Leitrim have also opted for a change in management in 2011 with Offaly native Cathal Phibbs taking over as head of the side with Mickey Dorrigan among those providing invaluable assistance from the sidelines. They will be travelling to win with Lory Meagher All-Stars Michael Poniard and Ian Birmingham in their ranks.
Tyrone have the ability to make a winning start against Leitrim, as they begin a process, which will hopefully take them back into the higher divisions. Early confidence will be the key to success, as they attempt to secure a place in the play offs and ultimately promotion. They have been preparing diligently in recent weeks, but Sunday’s opening joust with Leitrim will provide new boss Tom Magill with a hint of what is to follow in the year ahead. Only time will tell if the players have the belief to climb over the winning line