Hurling & Camogie

Tyrone in ‘bonus territory’ claims manager Stephen McGarry

The winner of this clash will face Derry in the divisional final

Tyrone manager Stephen McGarry (left) was previously a coach under former boss Michael McShane
Stephen McGarry Tyrone manager Stephen McGarry (left) was delighted by his side's performance against Wicklow last week

Allianz Hurling League Division 2B semi-final

Donegal v Tyrone (Saturday, O’Donnell Park, 1pm)

WITH promotion already in the bag, Tyrone manager Stephen McGarry wants his players to enjoy Saturday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2B semi-final against Donegal.

And he believes the underdog tag will help them perform with freedom in Letterkenny.

Both teams will operate in the restructured Division Two next season, but first there’s a title to be contested by three Ulster counties, with this weekend’s winners set to face Derry in the final.

“We’ll be going into the Donegal game as huge underdogs. I know they were very disappointed with the draw at Healy Park, and essentially believed they were hard done by,” said McGarry.

“But we’ll rock in to it, we’ll enjoy it, we’ll enjoy the underdog tag with maybe a wee chip on our shoulder and try and put in as good a performance as we can.”

Victory over Wicklow last weekend saw Tyrone take another positive step on a steady path of progression, and in 2025 they’ll compete at their highest ever level, testing themselves against the likes of Kerry, Meath and Kildare.

“It will bring its own challenges, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

“We have a League semi-final to look forward to and we intend to go for it.

“We’re essentially in bonus territory and we’ll treat it like that.

“I have maintained from the start of the year that we’re performance-driven. If we start looking at fixtures and results and permutations, we have never looked at that once.

“We just focus on what we do, how could we beat Wicklow, how could we be better than we were last week.”

Aidy Kelly’s magnificent 18 points haul inspired the Red Hands to a 1-29 to 2-17 victory over the Garden county, with the players bouncing back strongly from a flat performance against London a week earlier.

“The reaction from the second-half performance in London was really, really good,” said McGarry.

“I was just over the moon, and I was delighted to see them getting the result that they deserved.”

And the Red Hand boss is certain that his team will again push themselves to the limit in Saturday’s semi-final.

“We have warriors there like Aidy Kelly and older hands like Ruairi Devlin, Fionn Devlin and Bryan McGurk, so many leaders.

“They set the standards, and we saw how much it means to them.

“When they’re on the field, you know you’re going to get a performance from them, and I’m delighted for them.”