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Rory Beggan is a class apart says Tyrone goalkeeper Niall Morgan

The form of Niall Morgan has been one of few bright spots for Tyrone in their Allianz Football League camapign so far and the Edendork man is relishing facing the man he considers the best keeper in Ireland, Rory Beggan, in round four on February 23
Francis Mooney

THEY operate between the sticks, but they're two of the greatest attacking weapons in the modern game, and Rory Beggan and Niall Morgan are set to go head to head as the NFL Division One relegation battle hots up.

Next up for Monaghan and Tyrone is the mouth-watering Ulster derby, with both sides desperately needing points when they meet at Healy Park on Saturday week.

Allstar goalkeeper Beggan, leading from the back with his vast array of pinpoint kick-outs, and also a prolific scoring machine from long range frees, is the acknowledged master of his trade.

But Morgan has taken the evolving role of the modern ‘keeper to a whole new level with attacking surges which have seen him pick off points from play in his last two games, including a late equaliser against Roscommon.

All eyes will be on the men who form the last line of defence, as well as the focal point of attack, in a derby clash that offers many additional sub-plots.

“I think at the minute he is probably the best in Ireland at it, although Cluxton is probably a bit calmer than us both,” said Morgan.

“In terms of his kicking ability there is nobody to match Beggan at the minute, so it's vital for us that we put the pressure on him that no doubt Monaghan will be putting on me.”

Tyrone are still without a win, while Monaghan have failed to add to the two points they collected in an opening day defeat of Dublin.

A fierce rivalry is certain to deliver once again in a high stakes encounter which could make or break their respective campaigns.

“They have two points and we have one so it's an absolute huge game for both teams. Whoever loses that game is realistically going to be sucked into a relegation fight and that is somewhere were you don't want to be,” said Morgan.

“The great thing about the league is that you aren't relegated after a couple of games you have to go the whole hog and anything can happen. We are going to be up for it, Monaghan are going to be up for it, they aren't going to want to be dragged into a relegation battle and neither are we.

“It will be no place for the faint hearted and form is going to be thrown out the window and at the end of the day its Tyrone v Monaghan. The two Counties have had some great battles over the years and there is never much between the sides.”

Monaghan won last year's league meeting, and they also overturned Tyrone in the Ulster Championship at the Omagh venue, were Tyrone have struggled for positive results in recent seasons.

“After losing at home to Mayo it is important for us to turn that around and try and make Healy Park a fortress again. We are getting the sense now that people don't mind coming to Healy Park to play Tyrone and it can't be that way.

“We need to make it a fortress the same way that others do. Nobody wants to go to Salthill or Tuam, nobody wants to go to Kerry, nobody wants to go to Croke Park to play Dublin so we need to start making Healy Park have the same feel about it.”

Three points (2f) from Morgan, along with five Peter Harte frees, represented the bulk of Tyrone's positive finishing at Hyde Park last weekend, stats that highlighted the absence of an effective cutting edge up front.

But Morgan is confident that a two-week break will give Mickey Harte and his coaches an opportunity to work on offensive plays which will be crucial in tehir battle to avoid relegation.

“The break this weekend gives us a bit of time to work on things that we are trying to implement.

“Now at least we have done them in a game and have seen were they are going wrong and were they are going right and we have a chance to work on them properly in training for a couple of weeks without worrying about a game at the weekend or boys being tired.

“We have good time now to have maybe four or five pitch sessions when we can really work on things. It is a good time to get a break in the league after a couple of games rather than after just one.”

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