GAA Football

Ulster SFC - Fermanagh v Tyrone tactical take, key battle and possible match-ups

The in-form Darren McCurry, fresh from putting Kerry to the sword in the Tyrone's final Division One game, carries the greatest threat to Fermanagh tonight. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

KEY BATTLE

Jonny Cassidy (Fermanagh) v Darren McCurry (Tyrone)

CASSIDY would be well suited to Cathal McShane too - and may well pick him up instead - but given that, on form, McCurry carries the most immediate danger, this is where Cassidy appears most likely to go.

Quick, strong and sticky, Cassidy loves defending, loves the dirty jobs. You can just tell.

He will have his work cut out today, though. After a stop-start county career that sometimes flattered to deceive, McCurry relished the confidence placed in him by Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher during last year’s All-Ireland run – and has continued to impress this year.

If he hits top form, it could be a long night for the Ernemen.

TACTICAL TAKE

AFTER the nip and tuck defensiveness of the Rory Gallagher and, to a lesser extent, Ryan McMenamin years, Fermanagh have adopted more of a front foot approach thus far under Kieran Donnelly.

Being ambitious in Division Three and being ambitious against the All-Ireland champions are two different things entirely, however.

With the twin towers, brothers Ryan and Conall Jones, as well as Darragh McGurn, hovering around the middle third, Fermanagh will try and dominate the skies from kick-outs and push on from there.

Tyrone may have lost a host of fringe players since the highs of last September, they may be without Peter Harte and Mattie Donnelly due to injury, Conor McKenna and Cathal McShane are still struggling for form, but they still have to be fancied to get through tonight’s game.

Frank Burns will sweep in front of Ronan McNamee and Michael McKernan, with captain Padraig Hampsey likely to push out to marshall the dynamic McGurn. Liam Rafferty could get the nod in Harte’s absence, while either Richie Donnelly or Ben McDonnell will line out alongside Conn Kilpatrick in the middle.

Conor Meyler and Kieran McGeary will both roam up and down the wings, with Canavan dropping out around half-forward – his pace and trickery could punish the Ernemen from deep, with Darren McCurry and Cathal McShane carrying the threat up top.

POSSIBLE MATCH-UPS

N Morgan

R McNamee M McKernan

S Quigley C Corrigan

F Burns

R Brennan P Hampsey L Rafferty

C Jones D McGurn R Lyons

C Kilpatrick R Donnelly

R Jones B Horan

C Meyler N Sludden K McGeary

A Breen G Jones K Connor

D Canavan

J Largo-Ellis

J McMahon

D McCurry C McShane

J Cassidy L Flanagan

S McNally

THE BUILD UP IN QUOTES

“The fact that we know the Tyrone players there is maybe not the same fear factor because they are our next door neighbours”

Fermanagh boss Kieran Donnelly

“Coming back as All-Ireland champions was a position that we didn’t expect to be in… You need a lot of work done behind the scenes to keep everybody together, whereby you have players who aren’t in a position to fully commit knowing that they’re going to see very little game-time”

Peter Canavan on where Tyrone stand

REFEREE

Joe McQuillan (Cavan)

WHERE TO WATCH

Sky Sports Arena, coverage from 6.15pm

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