Kelly and Winters doubtful for Tyrone's Swords Rackard joust
TYRONE are sweating on the fitness of two key players ahead of Saturday’s Nicky Rackard Cup quarter-final against Fingal.
Midfielder Justin Kelly and attacker Mark Winters are doubtful for the tie at Swords. Both were forced out of the action in the second half of last weekend’s defeat to Armagh at Carrickmore. Manager Mattie Lennon revealed the pair had carried injuries into the meeting with the Orchard men. The in-form Kelly risked a hamstring strain, while Winters had been struggling with a groin problem.
“We picked up a couple of injuries and had to make substitutions that we wouldn’t have ideally wanted to make in the second half, and maybe that affected us a bit, with Justin going off and Mark going off," said Lennon.
"Mark has a groin problem and Justin has a hamstring problem. We had an inkling of those going into the match, but they went as long as they could go, and we had to take them off in the second half and it disrupted us.”
Despite the six-point reversal, Lennon remains hopeful the Red Hands can recover and make a successful defence of the Rackard Cup title they won for the first time last year.
“We’re still in the Nicky Rackard," added Lennon.
"It is a learning experience, and it’s good to play a team like Armagh at that level because you learn all the time. We have a quick turnaround and we’ll have to get ready for it. We’re still in the competition, it’s not over by any means, and we’ll be giving it a good lash next week again.”
The Tyrone coach feels the experience of playing against Armagh, a team from a higher division, will help his players improve their game.
“The hurlers that we have will learn from this - wee mistakes that maybe we made. We can pick up on those and the guys will assess that themselves, they know that themselves. But this is what you want, you want to be playing these type of games more and more often because good hurlers will learn, and will pick up, and will get better.
“We’re disappointed, obviously, that we didn’t win it. We thought going in that we could win it, as you do with any game. But Armagh is a good side, and from the start of the competition, Armagh were strong favourites to come out of it, from the very fact that they’re playing in a higher league than the other teams in it.
“But I can’t fault the lads. They gave it everything they had right to the bitter end there. We didn’t lie down, we fought back and we finished the game very strongly.”