Tyrone and Donegal clashes over the past couple of years have served up plenty of excitement, incident and memorable moments, already this year the senior men, minor boys, senior hurlers and under 21 ladies have all met in competitive action……..This Sunday the senior ladies will renew rivalries as they meet in the semi-final of the TG4 Ulster senior football championship.
The Counties meeting at Under 21 level this year saw the impressive Amber Barrett, who will line out up front again for Donegal on Sunday breaking Tyrone hearts with a powerful scoring display. Barrett and the free scoring Gearldine McLaughlin will pose Tyrone’s impressive defence a real challenge this weekend but there’s also a certain and Yvonne McMonagle who racked up a double hattrick against Down last time out could make life difficult for the O’Neill county side.
Tyrone go into the tie with the underdogs tag and that will suit the O’Neill county side as they attempt to reach the Ulster decider for the first time since 2013, they haven’t had their hands on the Ulster title now since 2009 .The all Ireland senior crown still eludes Tyrone too having reached the decider in 2010.
There are only a couple of that squad still around, this is a new look Tyrone and some new faces have established themselves over the past two to three years, young Niamh O’Neill and Zoe Loughran up front, – Loughran scored the crucial goal against Cavan- Karen Quinn, Emma Louise Mulgrew and Christiane Hunter at the back while there’s vast experience too with Shannon Quinn, Gemma Begley, the Donnelly’s Cathy and Joline and of course inspirational captain Neamh Woods.
Tyrone will come into Sundays game slightly under the radar, they had a poor enough league campaign although the results certainly didn’t match the performances and they had a real battle to get over the line against Cavan, but that game against the Breffni girls will have stood them well, a lot more no doubt than Donegal boss Davy McLaughlin will have learnt from that outing against Down.
The game was over as contest well before the break, the under 21s, playing the all Ireland B final the next day were off the park after twenty odd minutes and yes Donegal showed no mercy but what was the quality of the opposition on the day. Those under 21s will be available for selection this Sunday and Donegal report no injury issues as they continue their build up, they are full of expectation and will fancy a crack at either Armagh or Monaghan who meet in the days other last four clash.
Tiffy Quinn and Tony McVeigh will have done their homework ahead of this game, but what style of game plan will the Tyrone side deploy at Cavan, it’s clear Tyrone will have to think scores, they will be keen to see their forwards step up to the plate, they will be the first to admit that they need to be more clinical, on the back of Niamh O’Neills scoring performance in the club championship would certainly give everyone a boost while Zoe Loughran who made a big impact when she came of the bench to score that extra time goal in the quarter final could be knocking on the door for a starting spot.
Changes at the back are unlikely, captain Neamh Woods, Christiane Hunter and the midfielders of Shannon Quinn and Emma Hegarty give Tyrone a solid spine with Ardboe defender Karen Quinn, Maria Donnelly and Mulgrew all capable of holding the line with goalkeeper Shannon Lynch one of the finest in Ulster this term.
On the plus side while there are a few injury doubts, the most worrying a calf strain for Gemma Begley that is not responding as well as expected, the rest of the squad should be available, young Joanne Barrett coming through a club championship game with no ill affects after an injury at the weekend.
A tough task then for Tyrone but they certainly have nothing to loose, if they bring their A game they have enough in the tank to see off Donegal, The winners will have earned their place in the decider.
Sundays game at Kingspan Breffni Park throws in at 1-15pm