GAA Football

Good McKenna Cup is key to League form says Tyrone's Darren McCurry

 Tyrone's Darren McCurry against Derry during the McKenna Cup match played at Owenbeg last week. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin.
Francis Mooney

TYRONE attacker Darren McCurry believes a strong Dr McKenna Cup run can underpin a solid League campaign.

McCurry’s man-of-the-match display helped ease the holders into another semi-final with a convincing midweek win over Donegal, and he’s targeting another big return in tomorrow’s semi-final against Fermanagh.

Five competitive games in the preseason competition would, in the Edendork man’s opinion, fine-tune preparations for next month’s return to Division One of the National Football League.

“We’re hoping to get a good start in our first game against Roscommon, then we have Dublin, but that all builds from a good McKenna Cup,” he said.

“So hopefully now we’ll do the business and get back into the final. It doesn’t matter who we play. We’ll just look at our own performances, and we’re gradually starting to play better as the games go on.

“It’s good at this time of year to get as many games as you can coming into the league, which Mickey always emphasises. I think he’s happy, because an extra game means you get more time to see the new players.

“It is going to be a difficult League, but that’s where you want to be. Coming into the Championship, you want to be playing the best teams.”

A number of newcomers have put their hands up with promising displays over the past couple of weeks, two of them hitting the net in the 2-23 to 0-6 win over Donegal.

Ronan McHugh scored his second goal in successive games, with Cahir McCullagh also on target to seal a massive victory.

“We’re seeing a lot of these new boys playing well, the likes of Lee Brennan, Cahir McCullagh and Declan McClure. They’re all young lads getting plenty of experience and they’re doing the job.

“They got in there and they’re taking their chance, and that’s what you have to do. You might only get one chance at this, you might only get one or two games, so you really have to prove yourself to get on this team.”

McCurry, who scored six points from play against Donegal, welcomes the increased competition for places in the Tyrone attack.

He feels the pressure will help him work to improve his game, and give manager Mickey Harte difficult decisions to make.

“It always has been tough to get on this team. I found that out last year when I struggled to really get my performance going.

“But that’s good, because that brings out the best in yourself, you’re always pushing.

“It’s good to have that extra competition for places, with the college boys coming back.”

The 24-year-old front man lauded the single-mindedness of a team that knew they must rack up a big score-line against a Donegal U21 side that set up with an ultra-defensive formation.

The Red Hands made no mistake, cutting through the visitors’ defence at will to hit 25 quality scores, including 2-17 from play.

“We knew what we had to do coming into the game, we had to get the scores up and get a good start on Donegal, which I think we did well.

“There were a lot of good performance there, but still a lot to improve on.

“We knew we had to win big and we knew what our goals were. We weren’t happy with the performance against Cavan, so we knew we had a lot to work on.

“We had a lot of injuries, and boys away, but I think we’re starting to get into the groove now.” 

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football