I'll play anywhere for Tyrone: Padraig Hampsey
PADRAIG Hampsey says he will play anywhere for Tyrone as long as he's getting on Mickey Harte's starting line-up.
Barring injury, there is no danger of the Coalisland man losing his place ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final meeting with Monaghan after another mammoth performance against Donegal last weekend.
The 2015 All-Ireland winning full-back was tasked with trying to tame Donegal captain Michael Murphy in last weekend's winner-takes-all Super 8s clash.
While Murphy pinched a goal towards the end of the first half, Hampsey rallied in the second half to hit two brilliant points from play and edged their compelling duel.
“Michael Murphy is a quality player,” said Hampsey.
“I've marked him a couple of times before. He's a big man, he's good in the air, he's good feet, and he always has you on your toes when you're marking him – and he got the goal as well. It was a good tussle.
“It opened up a few times for me in the second half with the lads breaking the line and there was an overlap created and thankfully I got on the end of a few scores.”
While he made his name at full-back with the county's all-conquering U21 squad, Hampsey is quite happy to fill any role in the middle eight.
He had a good tussle with Monaghan's Kieran Hughes in their Ulster Championship meeting back in May.
“I don't mind playing midfield. I play midfield or half-back for my club, so I'm used to being played in different positions. But if you're given a job by Mickey Harte to do, you just put the head down and do the best you can. As long as I'm getting a jersey I'm happy enough. It's always a privilege putting on the Tyrone jersey every day you go out.”
Hampsey has bitter memories of that rainy day at Healy Park when Monaghan's superior game-management saw them knock out the reigning provincial champions.
“It's always tough to lift yourself after a defeat but you have to put it behind you and go on to the next one,” he said.
“We went on a run through the Qualifiers and the Super 8s and we're now in the semi-finals. We've been able to grind out results there which in previous years we mightn't have been able to do. We've showed a bit of heart throughout the campaign but Monaghan's going to be tough going.
“The conditions were difficult that day in Healy Park. It's always a tough battle against Monaghan, both in the League and in the Ulster Championship. They are a well drilled side and that's down to Malachy O'Rourke, and they've good youth as well with the likes of [Conor] McCarthy.”
Going the back roads to reach the Super 8s and now the semi-finals has brought the Tyrone players closer together.
After the Monaghan defeat, they just about saw off Meath before recording wins over Carlow, Cavan and Cork to reach the last eight. Wins either side of the Super 8s loss to Dublin was enough to see them qualify for the last four.
“We have a special group there, a real deadly connection,” said Hampsey.
“We've been on the road now for a good few weeks and we've built up a good bond. We've just got to know each other a lot better and it's starting to show. We've got good youth and experience with the likes of Petey Harte and big Collie Cavanagh keeping us grounded.”