Kieran McGeary: Tyrone gathering winning momentum heading into Super 8s series
Kieran McGeary believes Tyrone are on an upward spiral and gathering serious momentum as they head into the Super 8s.
Since losing to Donegal in the Ulster SFC semi-final, they haven’t looked back, and three comfortable Qualifier wins later they’re back on a familiar path.
They travel to The Hyde tomorrow to take on Roscommon in a crucial tie that will apply a defined shape to the round robin group.
“We’re on the road again from that Donegal defeat, and we can only keep getting better,” McGeary said.
Tyrone’s unrivalled record in the Qualifiers has seen them develop a durability and a penchant for the hard road.
By the time this All-Ireland quarter-final series has ended, they’ll have six games in as many weeks.
It’s a big ask of a group of amateur sportsmen, but no gaelic football squad is better prepared than the Red Hands.
“It’s taxing, but it’s enjoyable. Training has to be filtered differently, obviously to suit injuries, to suit recovery, and that’s grand,'' he stated.
“We’re doing it, we’re coping, but isn’t that why you have a panel, so that you’re able to give boys opportunities, so that anybody can come on on any given day and do any given role.
“So we’ll be ready. Let the games begin.”
Tyrone were fortunate to salvage a point from their NFL Division One meeting with Roscommon at Hyde Park back in February.
The Rossies, having since triumphed in the Connacht Championship, go into the Super 8s with every reason to feel good about themselves.
“We went there in the League this year and you know how lucky we were to get out of there with a draw. We could have easily have been beaten,'' he said.
“They’re provincial winners, sitting on a high, and we have had to go through the back door, so bookies will rightly favour Roscommon, and rightly so.
“They’re a great team, they’re a fantastic county, they’ll have loads of support, and they’ll be buzzing, they’ll be waiting for us.”
Both sides understand the significance of tomorrow’s tie. All-Ireland champions Dublin are expected to dominate the group, and the remaining members may well be left to battle it out for second place and the other semi-final spot up for grabs.
McGeary said: “Let people assume that. It’s only right that they do think that. They are All-Ireland champions, they are the team that they are.
“We will be targeting every single game the exact same way, down in Roscommon, we’ll be going to Croke Park against Cork and then we invite Dublin to Healy Park.
“So we will be taking every game with the exact same mind-frame. We will be taking Roscommon first, and we’ll see where we get with that game.”
Tyrone have gone some way towards rehabilitation since their Ulster semi-final loss, but the scars from that defeat to Donegal remain.
They have since comfortably seen off Longford, Kildare and Cavan, but still have some distance to travel along the road to full recovery.
“We took the Donegal defeat extremely bad. It still sits within us, we’re still swallowing that lump.
“They are where they are, for very good reasons, but it was a massive learning curve for us.
“I wouldn’t say that we were sitting extremely cocky going in against them, not one bit, but they nipped us on the day, and we will take it as it comes.
“You never know, we could end up meeting them again, who knows?”