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Ulster Senior Hurling Championship First Round Preview
Tyrone hoping to down the Oaks
Tyrone vs. Derry
Saturday 14th May
It may be a long shot, but the Tyrone senior hurlers will entertain Derry in the opening round of the Ulster Senior Hurling Championship, at Healy Park in Omagh tomorrow afternoon with more than a hint of an upset in their eyes.
For Tyrone manager Tom Magill, it promises to be an interesting afternoon, as he brings his new charges up against his native county, but the Lavey man will be firmly in the Red Hand camp. He knows only too well the strengths or as the case may be the weaknesses of his beloved Oaks and, in the current campaign those insights could well help inspire Tyrone to a rare win over one of the more established Ulster hurling counties.
Granted it will be a tall order. Tyrone are after all coming from a low base. They competed in Division Four of the National Hurling League and, while winning promotion following an unbeaten run on their way to the collecting the league title manager Tom Magill admits his team will be the hottest of underdogs, when they take to the field against Derry.
“Yeah it will be an interesting game alright. Derry will be favourites and, rightly so. After all they are playing two divisions above us, but it will be all about what happens on the day,” claimed Magill. “I have always said that there are good hurlers in Tyrone. They are every bit as good as hurlers elsewhere and, hopefully we can put it up to Derry. I think our fitness is as good as it can be and, if nerves don’t get to them, they will give it a good shot. That said we are going into this game as big, big underdogs.”
Throughout the season Tyrone have demonstrated great character and belief to preserve their unbeaten record. At various stages, Tyrone were forced to show their metal and, against Fermanagh, they came from nine points down to secure a draw. However Saturday’s championship tussle with their Sperrin rivals will provide the team with their biggest test of the season.
If anything the game will let the team show exactly just how far they have come this term. Throw in the fact that Derry are entering the game on the back of two disappointing results in recent weeks allied to injuries and suspensions means that Ger Rogan will be bringing his side to Healy Park fearing the worst. The Oak leafs lost out to Wicklow in the Division Three League Final a few weeks ago and then last Saturday afternoon in Banagher, they bowed out of the Christy Ring Cup, when losing heavily to Kildare.
Darryl McCloskey, Sean Cassidy, Oisin McCloskey, Michael Kirkpatrick, Brendan Quigley and Alan Grant will all be expected to play leading roles against the Red Hands. The jewel in their crown is Ruairi Convery, but Tyrone and in particular Tom Magill will be anticipating a strong Derry threat throughout the field and rightly so.
Sean Paul Begley, Damian Maguire, Mike O’Gorman, Aidan Kelly, Cathal McErlean Rory O’Neill and Peter O’Connor will be out to cause an upset and with home advantage an injury ravaged Derry side will not get things all their own way