Tyrone’s lady footballers will put behind them the woes of the past month this Sunday evening when they take to the field to face Armagh in the Ulster senior football semi-final. There may be plenty of talk in the county about the things that have apparently went wrong but the players and the management team of Brian McGee and Paudge Quinn are not getting hung up on those issues. Theres no denying there have been problems but the players says skipper Gemma Begley have put them behind them, “The bulk of the girls have been here since the start of the year and they have certainly put in the work, we have a few new faces in now and theres a determination about the players, we perhaps have something to prove to ourselves, we are certainly not going to just make up the numbers at Inniskeen” Last weekend Tyrone turned in a great performance at Donaghmore as they beat Down in a battling challenge game. The tie affording messers Quinn and McGee a chance to see where Tyrone is at ahead of the Ulster outing.
Well aware of the challenge that lies ahead bearing in mind Armaghs shock loss to Down in the national league final Begley admits her players must be at their best, ” We have a talented group but I think we all know that we have to step up to the plate on Sunday” The new management have several familiar faces back at their disposal, it would ne unfair however to expect some of these players to have a full game of inter county football in them, for several players Sundays semi-final could well be their first inter county outing in three years. The bulk of the squad too have put in the hard miles in a hectic pre-season and national league, it could be seen as unsettling if the new group walked straight in. Its a fine balancing act then for the new management.
As the Armagh sides senior stateswoman Caiomhe Morgan is a veteran of many battles against Tyrone, the 29-year-old certainly isn’t getting lulled into any false sense of security based on perceived problems in the opposing set-up.
“We’re not wasting time or energy trying to second guess another team’s business because doing so would achieve nothing and just be a dangerous distraction,” insists Morgan.
“Our full focus has been on Armagh and getting ourselves right for a tough game which carries the prize of a place in the Ulster final never mind the chance to beat Tyrone for the first time in a while.
“We’ve had a fierce rivalry with Tyrone through the years and, in my experience, peripheral factors don’t mean much once that ball has been thrown in. There’s always speculation about this or that but it has little effect on a game.
“I’m sure the Tyrone players will feel that whatever may have happened previously is now behind them and what better way to move on than by beating Armagh and giving themselves an Ulster final to look forward to?
“But we have our own burning need to secure something tangible after the disappointment of losing the National League final to Down last month, a match we went into with high expectations that we didn’t deliver on.
“Instead of simply making excuses about being beaten by a couple of late goals that day, we’ve gone back and examined everything we do in terms of our approach, preparation and gameplan and worked really hard in the intervening weeks,” she says.
Armagh will be boosted by the return of captain Mags McAlinden, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since lifting the Mary Quinn Cup in Croke Park last October.