Dublin defeat has improved us says Tyrone's Frank Burns
AS the Super 8 series comes down to the heart-stopping drama of sudden death, Frank Burns says Tyrone will travel to Ballybofey with a renewed confidence following their Healy Park thriller with the Dubs.
A draw will be enough to send the Red Hands through to the All-Ireland semi-final, given their superior scoring return, but it’s all set up for a ferocious derby battle on Sunday week against a Donegal side desperate for a win to stay alive.
Tyrone ran the champions close in a historic first Championship clash with Dublin in Omagh, but a three-point win almost certainly guarantees Jim Gavin’s side top spot in Group Two and a place in the last four.
With Roscommon eliminated following two straight losses, the remaining qualification spot will be fiercely contested by two Ulster giants.
“We did well in Omagh and got close to Dublin, but at the same time we were coming here to win it,” said Burns of the 1-14 to 0-14 defeat.
“I suppose the game does give us a bit of confidence in showing that we're not that far away.”
Two weeks of reflection, appraisal and intense preparation will consume the minds and bodies of the Tyrone players, and emerging young centre back Burns feels the clash with Dublin has given them an appreciation of where they are at, and a measure of what they need to do.
“There's a massive game now in two weeks between us and Donegal and we both have to win it to get to the All-Ireland semi-final.
James McCarthy’s goal early in the second half came as a significant blow to a Tyrone side that had been battling heroically to contain the Dublin attack.
In the end, that was the score that separated the sides, and it was particularly disappointing, given that it was a goal that could have been prevented, with McCarthy palming to the net after his initial shot had been superbly saved by Niall Morgan.
“It was a good game and good to get Dublin to come from Croke Park to our own patch here in Healy Park. We did well for long periods of the game, but goals win matches and they got the one,” he said.
“That was the difference between the teams at the end. I probably should have stopped Niall McCarthy myself, but he side-stepped me and then Niall (Morgan) did very well to save the shot and it was lucky to come back for the palm in.”
Pomeroy clubman Burns, who has been a revelation in his first season in the team, was blown away by the atmosphere at Healy Park on Saturday evening.
With the ground packed close to its 18,000 capacity, both sets of supporters, including an improvised Hill 16 gathering at the Gortin Road end, had the place rocking.
“The experience of playing in front of that crowd was just unreal. I don't think I've ever heard a roar like that in Healy Park and the support from Tyrone just overwhelming.”
And Burns appealed to Tyrone fans to come out in droves once again for the crunch meeting with Donegal at MacCumhaill Park on Sunday week.
“Hopefully, we can get that support again against Donegal. There's two weeks now to prepare for the Donegal game and we'll need all the support again.”