Feargal Logan hoping to have host of familiar faces back for Tyrone's NFL opener against Monaghan
TYRONE joint manager Feargal Logan is hoping to have almost all of his All-Ireland winning stars available for next weekend’s NFL opener against Monaghan.
Just a handful of regulars featured in the Dr McKenna Cup, with just four of the Sam Maguire Cup-winning team starting in each of the two games the Red Hands played.
Tyrone lost both of those games, failing to qualify for the knock-out stages, while Monaghan went on to win the title for the first time in 19 years with a four-game unbeaten run.
“We have done a wee bit of work, we have gathered everybody up, and we’re trying to get things moving,” said Logan.
“So yeah, we’re on the road and it’s all to play for, and once this National League starts it’s going to be going at a pace. It’s all to play for next weekend and let’s hope we’re up to speed and ready to go.”
Logan and his management partner Brian Dooher were watching from the stand at O’Neills Healy Park as Monaghan edged past Donegal by 1-11 to 0-13 in the final of the pre-season competition at the weekend.
A title-winning start to the season had their manager Seamus McEnaney in upbeat mood, and he was able to benefit from a run-out on the pitch where his side will take on the Red Hands this Sunday.
“Monaghan have four great games under their belt, so they’ll be in good, and we’ll just see how we go this week,” Logan added.
“Monaghan are in great shape and they look as if they have been doing a bit of training and working hard.
“They really put it up to Donegal in the first half, although Donegal shaped up in the second half and Michael Murphy came on and made a difference.
“Monaghan have had a very impressive McKenna Cup and they’re the lead team at the moment.”
While the Farney men have a solid pre-season under their belts, Tyrone had their preparations interrupted by a squad holiday in Florida, returning just two days before their opening Dr McKenna Cup tie, which they lost heavily to Cavan.
A couple of weeks of hard work has followed on the training pitch at Garvaghey as they bid to make up lost ground.
Logan stressed the importance of a strong start to the League to avoid being drawn into a relegation battle, particularly as the Red Hands have a tough run-in, with the last three of their Division One ties pitching them against Dublin, Mayo and Kerry.
“We had a shot League last year and we lost the first game, and it really puts you under pressure.
“Even with the seven-game League, if you lose early on, the pressure comes on, and if you look at the table and you see where you are, we hope that we can get out of the traps quick and sharp.
“But Monaghan will be doing the exact same, and every other team in Division One as well. We have all the challenges ahead of us.”
Logan paid tribute to five of his All-Ireland winning squad who have announced their retirements from inter-county football.
Tiernan McCann is the latest experienced Red Hand to decide to step away, following the departure of Ronan O’Neill, Mark Bradley, High Pat McGeary and Michael Cassidy.
“I have deepest respect for everybody that puts on the Tyrone jersey, whether it’s for one game or ten years, and some of these guys have been putting it on for ten or more years.
“They have been outstanding footballers for Tyrone minors, Tyrone U21s and Tyrone seniors, so myself and Brian and everybody involved has nothing but the deepest respect for them.
“I would love to set out all their accolades to show how well they have done for Tyrone over the years.
“We wish them all the best, there are choices to be made in life, and everybody understands that.”