Tyrone manager Martina Dillon will have been happy when the draw for the TG4 all Ireland football qualifiers was made on Monday evening. Tyrone had avoided Dublin and Sligo and were drawn against Donegal. Of course that game couldn’t go ahead as they had already met in the championship, thus the next team out in the draw, Tipperary will be the beaten Ulster finalists opposition on Saturday.
It will be the first time Tyrone have met Tipp in the championship and they will be happy to have been kept away from the big guns at this stage. They will hope to get a bit of momentum going and recreate the spirit that brought them to the all Ireland final last year.
On the back of a very disappointing Ulster final loss to Monaghan, Tyrone have refocused and tried to get back on track, a task boosted recently by the return of Shannon Quinn to the squad. A recent challenge game against Meath also offered the management a chance to reassess things too with all the squad having a chance to impress in a good win.
Monaghan looked good in the Ulster final but Tyrone just never got out of the blocks and paid the price. Since that game questions have been asked and Tyrone are keen to answer those on Saturday.
Tyrone were certainly better than that outing in Clones and the draw in the second round of the qualifiers has been favourable. It’s a chance for Dillon’s side to progress but they won’t take their opponents for granted.
Last season Tipperary lost heavily to Clare, on Monday they produced an impressive display in the first round of the qualifiers to seal a 3-13 to 1-6 over the same opposition, the division three national league champions. Full-forward Trisha Hickey scored 1-8 for Tipp on a memorable afternoon but it was Mairead Morrissey who claimed the player of the match award after scoring 2-2.
Gillian O’Brien was Tipp’s other scorer with 0-3 while defensively, the Premier County were extremely solid against a Clare team held to just 1-3 from play.
It’s unknown territory for Martina Dillon’s side this Saturday but they can be assured of a difficult afternoon with Morrissey and Hickey certain to be a scoring threat. Laura McGillion recently opted out of the Tyrone squad but with Quinn’s inclusion again Neamh Woods will be able to drop back into defence adding some depth there while allowing Quinn to link up with Sarah Donnelly in the middle. Up front Tyrone have plenty of scoring bite, Gemma Begley is expected to lead the attack again while the experienced Catriona McGahan, Cathy Donnelly and the finishing of Joline Donnelly will cause Derry Peter’s side trouble, certainly more trouble than Clare caused them on Monday.
Martina Dillon reports no injury issues and there’s a real competition for places ahead of the round two tie. Dillon is almost certain to make several changes and tweaks. Tipperary will go into the tie this weekend determined to cause an upset and will feel they have nothing to lose says centre half forward Mairead Morrissey
“We don’t know much about Tyrone this year, I don’t think we ever played them, I know I have been playing for a long time and I don’t remember meeting them, I do know though that while they will be fancied to progress. We have nothing to lose. No-one thought we would beat Clare so well , but we did, we want to build on that performance against the Ulster girls”