Tyrone hope to get Nicky Rackard campaign back on track against Louth
TYRONE must grasp the opportunity to get their Nicky Rackard Cup challenge back on track when they face Louth at Healy Park this afternoon.
The Red Hands are under pressure to deliver a performance following an unexpected collapse at the hands of Sligo last time out.
They'll be expected to get the better of a Louth side that has lost its two games, but that may not be enough to secure a semi-final spot.
“This is a big game, and it's still in our hands. We have to concentrate on our game and what we can do against Louth, and see where that takes us,” said manager Mattie Lennon.
The optimism created by an opening day win over Mayo turned to uncertainty when the trip to Sligo brought a heavy defeat, but Lennon is confident his players have the right mental approach.
“You have to take it on the chin, dust yourself down. We went back to training the following week, and we'll be back up and ready for this match against Louth.
“We can do nothing about that, that's' gone now, we didn't play well, we seemed very dead, very flat.
“But the previous week we were well up for Mayo. Maybe it was just the away match, the early start, but we just didn't seem to click.
“We just didn't get to where we had been at, maybe the precious week took a lot out of us.But the boys are back and chomping at the bit to get ready for Saturday against Louth.
“We have looked at places where it didn't go right, and we have to get on with it.”
The top two spots in the group remain up for grabs, and scoring difference could decide in the end who goes through to the last four.
“Nobody is guaranteed to go through in our group, or in the other group either. Sligo are sitting in pole position with four points, but it they lose to Mayo, it could come down to score difference,” said Lennon.
“There's still a lot of permutations there, but at the end of the day we have to concentrate on what's under our control.
“If we can perform and perform well, the result will take care of itself.”
Armagh are also aiming to get back to winning ways against Longford (today, 1pm, Pearse Park) after their draw with Warwickshire a fortnight ago.
The Orchardmen - who report a clean bill of health - currently sit top of Group One on score difference from Warwickshire heading into the final round of games, and will hope they are still there by the close of play today.
A late Danny Magee goal looked to have given Padraig O'Connor's the win after a topsy-turvy game, only for Warwickshire to rattle the back of the net well into added time.
The free-taking of Dean Gaffney kept the scoreboard ticking over for Armagh – he finished up with 0-16 – and they will need the Middletown man to be in top form again today against a Longford side who showed what they are capable of by defeating an improving Monaghan side last time out.
That followed a narrow opening day defeat for the Farneymen, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table going into their final Group One game against Warwickshire (today, 1pm, Inniskeen).