GAA Football

Tyrone's minor task: end Kerry's 33-game unbeaten run

Tyrone manager Collie Holmes during the Ulster Minor Championship quarter-final match against Donegal at Ballybofey on Saturday night. Picture Margaret McLaughlin.
Francis Mooney

Kerry's remarkable bid for a sixth successive All-Ireland title may be a Minor matter in comparison to Dublin's drive-for-five odyssey, but Tyrone could have a big say in the outcome of both.

The Kingdom have won the last five All-Ireland MFC titles, and they're on course to write another proud chapter in an unparalleled history.

Sunday's quarter-final sees them face the Red Hands at Tullamore, where they put a 33-game unbeaten run on the line.

It's a huge challenge for Tyrone, who must find a way to stifle the latest in a string of outstanding Minor teams from the Munster county and bring an end to a golden era.

“It's out of the frying pan into the fire stuff.

“We have come off a game against Monaghan, who have gone back to back in Ulster, and heave beaten us twice this year, and now we go to a higher standard again,” said Tyrone manager Collie Holmes.

“I appreciate that this particular team hasn't done 30-plus games in a row, but they have been unbeaten this year.

“We have had a chance to have a look at the video of the Munster final and they were massively impressive – traditional Kerry football, tight at the back big in midfield and hard running power and kicking power up front. So we have it all do to.

“I was impressed by Kerry's kicking style, kicking the ball in and taking the men on in one-on-ones. They have a very impressive inside forward line.

“We'll have to see how we can counter it. against somebody racking up 3-14, you're going to have to shut up shop, but then the last day, we did that against Monaghan.

“We got them down to one goal, but then they kicked a few points along with that two.”

Tyrone have gone through to the All-Ireland series via the back door after losing the provincial final to Monaghan.

They now face a shift in style as they step out of the Ulster arena, but Holmes feels they may benefit from the freshness of a different type of challenge from a largely unknown opponent.

“Our mindset would always have been to look at the opposition and set ourselves accordingly, whereas now we really have to go with our own style and just see what we come up against, because we don't know them so well.

“Sometimes that's a blessing too, you can focus on your own game.

“When we lost to Monaghan the first day we met them in the Ulster Championship, we shook things up a bit, so maybe it's time to do the same again and dip back into the squad that we have.”

Statistics don't lie, and Holmes accepts that his side faces a massive challenge, with his side going in as underdogs .

“Twenty nine-odd teams in the last four or five years have been the same against Kerry, and they're reigning All-Ireland champions several times over.

“So why would we be going in as losing Ulster finalists to be favourites in a game against the four-time All-Ireland champions unbeaten in something like 33 games?

“But that's not this Kerry squad. This squad has put together five or six games in Munster, so we have to separate that from the five-year thing that's going on there. But we know our position really well.”

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