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Tyrone Ladies Open With Long Run To Killarney

Friday 31.01.2014
Team Talk Mag
Club


A new season but a familiar problem for the Tyrone senior ladies management “injuries”. A ball hasn’t been kicked in anger yet but Brian McGee and Paudge Quinn are well aware of the challenge that lies ahead this term.

Tyrone remain in division one and open their campaign on Sunday in Killarney against an experienced Kerry, but this is a new look Tyrone. Five players including Shannon Quinn and Joline Donnelly remain out with knee injuries, although they are on the road to recovery, and some of the older heads such as Maura McMenamin and Catriona McGahan have opted for the moment at least to take a break.

On the plus side it’s the prime opportunity for other players to step up to the plate and grasp a starting place with both hands.

“We are going through a transition, but remain positive and focused. We have talked to a lot of players. We have new players on board and we are set to build again” explained McGee this week.

He and Quinn promised they would bring stability to the Tyrone ladies cause after their side lost in the all Ireland quarter final in the summer of 2013. The wheels were in motion right from the off, the players who remain and those who have linked up with the squad over the past month or so have been putting in the hard yards these wintry nights at Garvaghey.

There is no getting away from the hard facts, this will be a difficult league campaign although the O’Neill county side will take some heart from the fact that most of the teams appear to be in transition. Dublin and Monaghan have new management teams, Cork have had a couple of retirements and it’s expected too that Mayo will be fielding an inexperienced squad.

Kerry though look like the team best prepared for a crack at the league this term. They have added to their squad and have really pulled out the stops to promote what they have called the “Spring series” with games at high profile and top quality venues.

All things considered then, Tyrone look on the face of it destined to be propping up the table and be battling the drop but manager McGee has other ideas.

“Yes it will be difficult and yes it’s a tough start but we are aiming to avoid the drop. That said it would not be the end of the world if we did go down. The Tyrone men done it a few seasons ago and look at them now. They are back to their best. It’s a case of us starting from scratch basically this year and we have realistic expectations.”

McGee who guided the fortunes of St Macartans and Paudge Quinn a driving force behind Errigal will embark on their first national league campaign determined to see improvement in the new players and some of the players who have been in the squad over the past couple of years.

“Perhaps Tyrone should have started from the ground up again a couple of years ago, after that all Ireland final loss, the team since has been more or less hard to change. Now we have no choice, the team will be built on the spine of many of those players who played in that final and we hope to have the injured girls back. But this is that opportunity now for those new players and squad players to make their mark”

Sunday’s opponents Kerry, signalled their intentions to the Tyrone boss last week but it hasn’t stalled McGee’s enthusiasm for the new season.

” I was talking to their manager last week and while you hear managers talking down their chances most of the time, he was different. He really feels that this will be their year, I am actually glad we are getting this long trip and tough opener out of the way. We are not just going to make up the numbers though, certainly not. We are going there to try and get a result. That’s what we plan to do in this campaign. We are out to win every game and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

It’s not all doom and gloom and the players who are available on Sunday have worked hard although the build up hasn’t been kind. A challenge game last week was postponed and training has been curtailed too because of wet pitches. New faces certainly but plenty of experience around too, Gemma Begley, Cathy Donnelly and Neamh Woods add that experienced look to the side this weekend, Christiane Hunter, a returning Eimear Teague and Tori McLaughlin could well form a new look defence while Cappagh’s Teri McCusker will link up with Begley and Donnelly in the attack as Tyrone head to Killarney with a home game against Mayo next on the fixture list.

That game will afford Tyrone, says McGee to get settled into the league campaign

” We have Mayo at home and I think it will come at a good time for us. We might have a player or two back from injury and maybe a bit of support. We will see just how much we have done and what we have to do”

The draw for the Ulster ladies senior championship has once again paired Tyrone with Armagh in the quarter final, the winners face Donegal with Monaghan expected to see off Cavan in the other semi-final. The championship is very much on the mind of the Tyrone management,

“It would be wrong to say that we haven’t an eye on the Ulster championship. It’s important that Tyrone are challenging in Ulster as they used to. We reached the Ulster final last year and I honestly feel that if we get players back and the current squad that we are working with continue to improve and work hard we will not be far away. We are capable of beating Armagh and Donegal and then it’s a final. Anything can happen then but certainly for now it’s the league and nothing else that will keep our and the players focus and I am really looking forward to it” enthused McGee.

TYRONE300

The players and the county board have also been working hard behind the scenes over the Winter. The Tyrone 300 draw is set to get underway shortly and the response to this limited monthly draw has been good but some places on the draw remain and the big push is now on. The monthly draw will take place at the county board meeting and handsome cash prizes are on offer with all the funds raised directed to the development of ladies football, not for daily running costs but for overall development at all levels.

The players have taken ownership of the draw doing their bit to raise much needed funds for the Tyrone GFA who are self funding with no external support or other income except what they generate themselves. Draw details are available from any of the senior squad or county board and speaking this week county chairman Martin Conway said it was important everyone bought into the draw.

“We really need all the clubs to purchase at least one ticket and we need individuals and groups to roll in too. It’s just £10 per month with all the money going to football, real things, such as pitches, equipment, gear, things like that and all ages will benefit. While it’s the senior players driving this, this is very much for all teams, all levels. I would appeal here and now to our county underage squads and their parents to support this draw as your girls will also reap the rewards.”

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