Hurling & Camogie

Tyrone have injury worries ahead of third meeting with Derry

The Red Hands lost twice to their rivals in the Allianz Hurling League and face them again in the Christy Ring Cup

Stephen McGarry
Tyrone manager Stevie McGarry has concerns as his side get ready to face Derry. Picture Margaret McLaughlin (MARGARET MCLAUGHLIN PHOTOGRAPHY )

TYRONE’S hopes of getting the better of Derry at the third attempt have been impacted by an injury crisis.

The Oak Leafers defeated their north-west neighbours twice in the League, including in the Division 2B final, and they meet again at Owenbeg on Saturday.

Derry are coming off a five-point win over Wicklow at Aughrim, while the Red Hands lost to London by 11 at Dungannon, where skipper Oran McKee suffered a serious knee injury.

Sean Óg Grogan, Joe McToal, Seamus Sweeney and James McCann all missed the tie, and are doubtful for this weekend’s round-two encounter.

“It’s a lot of players to lose, a lot of leadership, but the rest of the players did the best that they could, they tried to the very end,” said manager Stephen McGarry.

A packed schedule of games has taken its toll, and Tyrone have been, to some extent, victims of their own success.

Having reached the Division 2B final, they were involved in two extra games, with the result that they had just two weeks to recover and prepare for the Christy Ring Cup.

“It was a brilliant achievement to get to a national final, but obviously, we’re seeing the negative side of it now, with missing so many players and boys picking up injuries.

“There was a lot of sore bodies after the League campaign, and that’s one of the niggles of getting to a League final.

“But we want to win every game that we play in, and we’ll never change that, so as long as there’s an opportunity to win a game, we’ll be trying to do that, injuries or not.”

Following previous trips to Celtic Park and Owenbeg, Tyrone are on the road again to the Derry training centre, where the home side will go in as favourites to complete the derby treble over the visitors.

“Any time you’re playing against Derry it’s going to be tough, and we’ll go in as underdogs,” said McGarry.

“But that’s the level we aspire to hurl at, and the more you play these big teams, like the Londons, like the Derrys, the more it will help us.

“It’s just a case now of trying to get the bodies repaired and rocking into next weekend, it’s a tough schedule.

“By the time we play Sligo, that will be eight games in nine weeks, it’s an intense schedule.”

He felt that London benefited from a four-week break ahead of last weekend’s trip to Dungannon, where they emerged with a 2-23 to 2-12 win.

“They were very fresh looking, and top-class hurlers, if you step off them half a yard, they will hurt you, and unfortunately we stood off them that half a yard, and they managed to deliver that.

“Right through the spine of their team, they’re elite level inter-county hurlers, and they seem to have put in a real shift this year,” said McGarry.

“They looked fresh coming into the game, they haven’t had a game in three or four weeks.

“Unfortunately for us, we just picked up a few injuries in that League campaign and we didn’t get them back.”

Round two

Saturday, April 20 (1pm) Derry v Tyrone (Owenbeg); London v Sligo (Ruislip)

Sunday, April 21 Kildare v Wicklow (Manguard Park, 2pm)