GAA Football

Back in the Day - in The Irish News on Oct 12 1996: Rivals Derry and Tyrone gear up for National League opener

Tyrone and Derry encounters rarely lack motivation, and it’s the turn of the Oak Leafers to gain revenge for Championship defeat. Picture by Ann McManus

RAZOR-EDGED rivalry, steeped in tradition and periodically sharpened by the Championship, always ensures meetings between Derry and Tyrone serve steaming hot value-for-money fare.

As an opener to the new NFL series, tomorrow’s first division derby offers the partisan supporter, and some 8,000 to 10,000 expected to converge on Celtic Park, no shortfall of interest.

Outright winners for the past two years, League specialists Derry opened both campaigns with back-to-back losses. Tyrone, as Ulster champions, enter the fray under new management and will be as ever eager to put one over one of their keenest rivals.

As past early season performances illustrate, the result at this stage of the grand plan primarily aimed at the goal of Championship titles is not a reliable indicator to what may or may not develop within the next seven to 10 months.

For both it’s a time for fresh review, extended panels for the winter duration, and injection of promising youth to begin the learning process and gain crucial experience of top bracket competitive demands.

Danny Ball has introduced a number of players for his first campaign as Tyrone manager. Derry’s management have decided to afford several long servants a few months off and give their underage graduates a stage throughout the four-match programme to the year’s turn.

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ROY Evans will send his Liverpool pace-setters into the Old Trafford cauldron today with an order to cut through the hype.

The Anfield boss is all too aware of the interest that is generated annually for his side’s clashes with arch-rivals Manchester United.

And the return of Eric Cantona from the soccer wilderness a touch over a year ago pushed the hysteria up another notch when Liverpool last made the trip down the East Lancs Road.

And now, with Liverpool perhaps facing their first major test of a season which has seen the Merseysiders leave the rest of the Premiership in their slipstream, there’s nothing the United fans would love more than to bring the old enemy down a peg or two in front of a 55,000 full-house and the millions watching on television this morning.

But Evans says: “Of course it’s always a massive game when we play United, but we’ve got to realise that the only thing that matters is the three points.

“They are very strong and have shown great consistency by challenging for trophies over so many years. But it’s not a cup final and we’ve just got to go out there treating it like we would any other game.”

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IRELAND will be involved in a straight shoot-out with South Africa today to decide who qualifies from Group Three for the semi-finals of the Alfred Dunhill Cup.

The young Irish trio of Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington followed up their 2-1 victory over Wales by beating Canada 3-0, while South Africa defeated the Welsh 2-1.

“We’re all playing well and I think we can win,” said Clarke, whose 76 was still four too good for Rick Gibson. McGinley, whose 71 was one of only eight sub-par rounds during the day and was six better than Jim Rutledge, added: “We want the wind to keep blowing – we were brought up in it.”

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