Feargal Logan: Return of Dubs and Derry raises stakes in Division One

The Tyrone joint management of Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher will turn their attention to the Division One opener against Roscommon following Wednesday night's Dr McKenna Cup defeat to Armagh. Picture by Oliver McVeigh

TYRONE joint manager Feargal Logan is relishing the “ultra-competitive” Division One campaign that lies ahead – especially since the top tier once again boasts All-Ireland champions Dublin and Ulster kingpins Derry.

With a host of big names still working their way back to fitness ahead of the League opener against Roscommon on January 28, and the likes of Niall Sludden opting off the inter-county stage, Logan and Brian Dooher used the Dr McKenna Cup to test out some new blood.

Goalscorer Tarlach Quinn and Carrickmore forward Lorcan McGarrity were among those to catch the eye in Wednesday night’s Section A defeat to Armagh, which saw the Red Hands miss out on this weekend’s semi-finals as the Orchard advance to meet Derry on Saturday.

And while an extra pre-season game - or two - before the serious stuff begins would have been useful, Tyrone now turn their attention to getting off to a good start against the Rossies.

“Another game would have been good,” said Logan.

“It’s disappointing, but listen, we have blooded a lot of young lads this past week, and they have to develop physically and they have to develop in the game.

“It was a bit of an example again tonight of fully developed county players, and we have men coming up the chain, so we have to deal with that.

“Another game would have been three in a week, and we have young lads developing and picking up knocks… it’s always hard to know what’s best, but the bottom line is it gives us an opportunity to focus on Roscommon.

“We have men coming back into the fold here slowly but surely, we have had a few men stepped away of high quality, we have had men with injuries of high quality, and we’re trying to get a bit of youth out on the pitch.

“It’s been a useful exercise all-out. It’s a very competitive Division One. This year it’s ultra-competitive, with the Dubs and Derry back in tow, so we’ll want to be starting well.

“We finished up fourth last year. We haven’t had the best of starts in the League this past while, but then we stabilise and we get on rightly in a sense.”

Goalscorer Tarlach Quinn impressed for Tyrone on Wednesday night. Picture by Oliver McVeigh

Padraig Hampsey and Darren McCurry remained on the bench at the BOX-IT Athletic Grounds, while midfielder Conn Kilpatrick was brought on once more as Tyrone build towards the start of the League.

And Logan expects the injury picture to become clearer in the coming weeks.

“There will be some men who won’t make the Roscommon opener, that’s the reality of it.

“But there are still critical men who are coming back in here. Could we have squeezed other men on there tonight? Possibly, but we’ll take stock now that we have the bit of time with ourselves, and let’s see how we shape up in the next few weeks.

“That will all follow in due course. We work every day with these men, and we’re getting scans through, we’re getting diagnoses through, so I wouldn’t call anything too far ahead of itself.”