Tyrone manager Mattie Lennon looking to build on new belief
Tyrone manager Mattie Lennon believes his players should be bursting with confidence as they return to action following last Sunday's heroic effort in the Ulster Hurling Shield final against Derry.
The Red Hands face Monaghan in their Nicky Rackard Cup opener at Inniskeen tomorrow, six days after coming close to stunning the Oak Leafers.
Lennon wants his team to build on what they achieved at Pair Eire Og last weekend, and take their game to a new level.
“We're looking forward to the Monaghan game. It's going to be a tough game, because we have played Monaghan already twice in the league. They have won one and we have won one,” he said.
“So it's not going to be easy, it's championship hurling again. But we're looking forward to getting back at it, to try to build on it, to try to build on that confidence and belief, and drive into the next game.
“We'll bring that game (v Derry) into it, we'll look at it, we'll analyse it, we'll look at some of the things that we maybe could do better, and improve on that for the next day.”
Inconsistency has been an issue for Tyrone this season. Following a string of encouraging performances, they crashed to a heavy defeat to Donegal in the NHL Division 2A final earlier this month.
But the manager is hoping that was merely a blip, and he's delighted with the response they produced in the Shield final a week later.
“We didn't get going against Donegal at all in the first ten or fifteen minutes. Donegal built up a lead, and then it was very difficult to claw it back.
“But we knew we had to get into the game from the start, and it was key that we matched Derry from the first whistle, and we did.
“That meant that we made a game of it, and it showed. It was nip and tuck most of the way through.
“Some of the things that we have been working in in training have been coming out.”
The Red Hands hurled with hunger, tenacity and intensity against hot favourites Derry, but Lennon expects, and demands, nothing less.
“That's an ingredient that you should have no matter what the game. That has to come from within, that tenacity, that want, that desire, and we had it today," he said.
“That will bring you to a certain level, and then your hurling will kick in.
“We played some good hurling to complement that, and we had to match Derry for that intensity, and we did, but unfortunately we came out the wrong side of the result.”
In the end, Derry ran out five points winners, 1-17 to 1-12, as their experience emerged as a factor in the closing stages, but it was a defeat that left the losers with many positives to draw upon.
“We knew at half-time that we had done well to be in the game, and to only be only three points down after playing against the breeze. We fought really hard.
“But we knew in the second half Derry were going to come out and up their game, and they did.
“But we got the goal and got level, but we didn't really push on, and a couple of wee mistakes and Derry got back into the game, got a couple of points.
“So maybe it was that wee bit of experience that told out in the end.”