Tyrone Ladies get ready to tackle Down

Tyrones Senior Ladies commence what will hopefully
be an extended Championship run when they tackle their Down
counterparts at Ballinascreen (3.30pm).

Under new manager Kevin Mc Crystal, the Red Hand girls appear
to have made good progress since their league campaign ended
at the quarter-final stage to Galway. A number of new faces
have been introduced to give an added impetus to the squad,
and coupled with the emergence of young players such as
Kelly-Marie Mc Crory and Grainne Kelly, Tyrone have every
right to approach the tie in buoyant mood.

Tyrone defeated the Mourne girls comfortably at this stage
last season, but they are sure to face a much sterner test
to their credentials on this occasion. Key players such
as the Downey sisters, and Castlewellans Lisa Morgan, who
opted to spend last summer in the States, have opted to
remain this year and help down return to the kind of form
which saw them clinch the All-Ireland Junior title in 2000.
Since then, they have failed to progress in the manner Tyrone
did following their Junior success, and the influx of a
new generation of young players to the panel should bring
with it a renewed hunger and appetite for success.

Tyrone will once again look to experienced Championship
campaigners such as newly-appointed captain Lisa Mc Girr,
All-Ireland Combined Colleges player Siobhan Mc Garvey,
former Allstar recipients Lynnette Hughes and Claire Mc
Garvey. Badoneys Caitriona Daly, Maeve Mc Gurk of Kildress
and Trillicks Teresa Mc Nabb can all provide Mc Crystal
with additional options if called upon.

Perhaps the key factor for the Red Hands will be whether
their defence can maintain its usual degree of miserliness.
Anchored by full-back Maura Kelly, the Tyrone rearguard
has proven watertight against some of the most potent attackers
in the country. Big performances will also be required from
fellow defenders Martina Doyle and Seana Keenan if Tyrone
are to succeed.

The midfield battle will be crucial to the outcome of the
game, with Lisa Mc Girr and Nuala Mc Garvey coming up against
a physical and experienced Down midfield. The Tyrone girls
will hope to provide forwards Briege Daly, Michaela Doherty
and Shauna Mc Girr with the kind of service they can transform
into goals.

Should Tyrone progress on Sunday, they could come up against
Down once more in the Ulster Final, as the losing side on
Sunday will face Monaghan in the second semi-final. On paper
at least, Tyrone appear to have too much talent and experience
to fall at this first hurdle, provided they guard against
complacency. But this is Championship football after all,
and anything less than a top-drawer performance by the Red
Hand Ladies could see an upset even at this early stage.

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