Allianz Hurling League Division 2B: Tyrone v Meath (Saturday, Healy Park, 2pm)
TYRONE have an opportunity to make a big statement of intent in Saturday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 2B clash with leaders Meath.
A win at O’Neills Healy Park would boost the Red Hands’ push for a second successive promotion.
Currently in second place, they face a stiff task in this top-of-the-table clash against an unbeaten Royal side.
It’s the biggest challenge yet for Michael McShane’s side, which has banked victories over London and Sligo in the current campaign.
The finishing of Dermot Begley, Mickey Little and Conor Grogan will be important, while converted defender Lorcan Devlin has been a success at full forward, hitting a number of important goals.
Meath travel north for a second successive clash with Ulster opposition, having defeated Donegal by 10 points last time out.
Padraig O’Hanrahan and Eamon O Donnchadha carry the scoring threat for a well organised side that will be wary of their newly promoted opponents.
Manager McShane is looking forward to testing his side against quality opposition.
“This is a real good test for us. Meath are a team that would have been playing up in Division 2A quite consistently, playing in the Joe McDonagh Cup, and having won the Christy Ring Cup in the not too distant past,” he said.
“They should be a level above where Tyrone are at, and this is a really good test to see if we can match a team of their calibre.
“We’ll to into it with lots of confidence, and let’s see where we land.
“We’ve had three tough games now with London, Wicklow and Sligo, and Meath is another tough assignment for us.
“They’re sitting top of the League unbeaten, and that would indicate that they’re the strongest team in the group at this stage.
“This will show where we’re at. We had a really good performance down in Sligo, a really good performance against London, but our levels dropped against Wicklow and resulted in a marginal defeat.
“So we want to see where we’re at when we come up against Meath.”
McShane won’t be looking to achieve any significant gain from home advantage, insisting he expects his side to perform at a certain level, irrespective of the venue.
“I don’t really buy into that, because when we’re away from home, I tell the players that it shouldn’t make any difference being at home or being away.
“It’s a pitch with lines around it, it’s fifteen against fifteen.
“The good thing is that there’s no travelling involved, and that’s a big advantage to us. For most of them it’s half an hour down the road at the most into Omagh.
“It cuts out that sort of travel like we had to Sligo, and an overnight when we were down in Wicklow.
“That to me is the advantage of it, and hopefully we will get people to come out to support us and push is on, because every inch will count against Meath.”