Classic on the cards in Clones

Classic on the Cards in Clones



The meeting of Armagh and Tyrone often raises the eyebrows, there’s
been many a battle down the years between the two counties and
Clones has provided the backdrop. On Sunday then the famous St
Tiernachs Park venue will host the first TG4 Ulster senior decider
between the two famous counties, Armagh the new kids on the block
swept all before them in the 2006 championship campaign, coming
unstuck against against Cork in their first all Ireland senior
appearance. Tyrone, well the majority of this squad have been
here before, for some it was a disappointment to miss out against
Monaghan in 2005 others enjoyed a 2003 title but for a county
that boasts the most clubs and the biggest membership in the province
its been too long out of the spotlight. Sundays tie has all the
right ingredients to be a classic, two fired up teams, quality
personnel and of course the added bite of a real local derby.
For a change then the ladies will take centre stage at Clones
but the rivalries will certainly be the same, Hayley Boyle is
the joint manager of Armagh but still plays for Tyrone side Galbally,
with a couple of Onnagh Celts players in the Tyrone squad the
banters been good. “ Catriona McGahan and Elaine Mallaghan are
in the Tyrone squad and you can be sure they have been keeping
me going” said the former goalkeeper. “ I know the quality of
this Tyrone set up, they have a good manager and the players are
all good, we must be at our best to beat them”

Boyle was the Tyrone custodian between the sticks for the early
successes in the county, she proudly has an all Ireland junior
medal and national league title, she guided Armagh then to the
junior all Ireland in 2005 as manager but how does she feel about
facing many of her old friends “ I would have played with Selina
Oguz, Maura Kelly and Eilish Gormley but I have a job to do with
Armagh and we are focused on the task, and it wont be an easy

Tyrone saw of the challenge of Down in a one sided semi-final
at Kingspan Breffni Park, that game part of a double header with
Armagh up against Monaghan, it afforded both management teams
a chance to eye up the opposition. Armagh edged home easy enough
in the end, Tyrone hit three goals in three first half minutes
to seal Downs fate , for good measure they added a further two
three pointers but still Jimmy McCloughan was worried. 5-12 to
2-8 the final score, the genial Fintona man who is in the Tyrone
hot seat just over eight months, concerned about the 2-8, “ We
had problems there in some areas of the pitch, we gave away too
much at times and some players were a bit static, Armagh wont
give us that time, we could be punished and we must tighten things
up, we must play better, raise the game but being in the final
is a great boost” After a mix up over the venue for the opening
tie in the Ulster championship Tyrone finally hosted Donegal at
Aghyaran, not a classic but job done all the same for Jimmy McCloughans
side. Interesting to note that two interested observers from Armagh
kept an eye on their final opponents that day in North Tyrone.
What would they have taken back to the management? Well the pace
of the forwards evident in that and in the semi-final will be
one area that could have caused concern, the battle of the Armagh
defence and the Tyrone forwards could be pivotal to the outcome
of this tie.

McCloughan meanwhile had indicated when he took over, his first
year in office would be a building year, “don’t expect too much”
he said after he was appointed, but he has stuck his neck on the
line with some new players coupled with the experienced stalwarts
from the past, its worked and Tyrone find themselves in the final.
No point in going there to make up the numbers though. He thinks
“ We are going there to win it on Sunday, I said before the semi-final
that if we have everyone available we could give anyone a rattle,
that hasn’t changed and I know we have the ability to take on
the best of them, it wont be easy but we can realistically win
it” The manager has been boosted by news on the injury front,
barring a couple of long term problems its all now the odd niggle
and strain, the pyhsios have been kept busy but its nothing like
the major crisis one week before the semi-final clash that saw
eleven players doubtful. Tyrone missed out on a final appearance
last year on scoring difference thanks to Armagh, a hint of revenge
in the air then as Sunday approaches, its adds a wee bit extra
to the whole affair, that is if anymore was needed.

Tyrone will start Sundays tie as underdogs, years of experience
and honours taken home will count for little as they take on the
form team of the moment backboned by the O’Donnells, Tennyson,
Moriarty and co. The Orchard side have done their homework, they
feel confident, they have some unfinished business in the championship
and will want to see off the challenge of Tyrone, whether they
do remains to be seen. Tyrone are hungry some would say starving,
reaching the Ulster final has been one step in the right direction
but with Anne Dooher flying fit and the strike force of Begley,
Connolly and co they will certainly put it up to Armagh. A classic
on the cards then at Clones, a clash of new rivals and the feeling
is the winners of this game will go far in 2007. Incidently the
new format of the championship means that the teams will still
be involved later in the month of July, all set for at least three
more games, going in as champions though would be a major bonus.


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