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McGeary: There's quite a number of fires to be put out with this Kerry team

Tyrone's Kieran McGeary says Kerry will provide threats from all over the pitch which the Red Hands will have to alert to in Saturday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final in Croke Park
BY FRANCIS MOONEY

TYRONE will have an abundance of fires to extinguish if they are to prevent a red-hot Kerry team from blazing a trail to the All-Ireland final.

That's the opinion of Kieran McGeary, who has been burnt by the Kingdom on more than one occasion in the past.

As they attempt to shake off the after-effects of Covid, the Red Hands come up against a Kingdom outfit in flying form, and with eyes firmly fixed on the big prize.

“We've never met an animal before like the one we're going to meet,” said McGeary.

“We have to be prepared as best we can, and we're going to be using every single day and night that we have to try and prepare to the best of our ability, so that we can show up on the day.

“There's quite a number of fires to be put out there on the Kerry team, and we'll have to nullify some more than others.”

Stamina and staying power will be crucial for the Ulster champions, who head for Croke Park on Saturday at the third time of asking, having been granted two postponements of their semi-final as the virus ravaged their squad.

Kerry may target a dip in energy levels with a third quarter onslaught, as they have done many times in the past, including the All-Ireland semi-final against Tyrone two years ago, when they made their move to seize control.

“That third quarter is going to have to be looked at. Maybe Kerry will look at it and say, well there's a time to target them.

“Maybe they'll look at the first quarter, or maybe they'll look at the full game as a whole.

“But definitely in that last game, we did not show up in the third quarter.

“So it's something that we have to address. It's not something that we're doing at half-time, it's not that we're deliberately taking the foot off the pedal. It's just one of those things.”

Tyrone reigned supreme over the Kingdom back in the glorious noughties, but more recently, the natural order has been restored.

While the Red Hands have enjoyed some success in League football, such as last year's win at Edendork, the big Championship days have invariably swung in favour of the Munster men in recent seasons.

“The big Championship days are the ones that are remembered, and unfortunately we haven't been on the right side of that.

“When we look at the teams back in the Noughties who went and met Kerry in Croke Park and sometimes came out on top, sometimes didn't, that's what we want to be doing, we want to be doing the exact same.”

And they have men in the set-up who were at the heart of those Sam Maguire Cup triumphs – Brian Dooher, Collie Holmes and Joe McMahon all heroes of the Noughties.

“They're the ones that have been there and they're the ones that have done it, won the games that put us on the map,” said McGeary.

“People still talk about that, and that's the case because they showed up on the day and they did big things.

“Anything that comes out of their mouths, football-related or not, you're going to listen to it.

“It's useful, it's beneficial and if we take it on board we'll not be in a bad place.”

The county's 16th Ulster Championship triumph reminded players and supporters of the sweet taste of success, a flavour that whets the appetite for more.

“It has been great to date to win the Ulster title, and that's something we haven't done in a number of years, but when you push this far and you get to a semi-final, you want to go the whole hog,” said McGeary.

“We're down to the last four and we're up against a tough one, but we'll be doing everything we can.

“There's a lot of players there who wouldn't be happy with throwing in the towel at the moment, knowing that there's an opportunity there, so well most certainly be going for it.

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