Back to the seniors and the NFL and our likely survival in Division 1 for another year at least. And, this being April, it has to be Tyrone, doesn’t it? The lads that are in charge of the NFL timetable must be a right bunch of dossers, from what I can see, as all they seem to do is simply roll over the fixtures from one year to the next. As a result, this will be the fourth year in a row in which our league match with Tyrone has occurred in the final round and which has taken place in the month of April. If those lazy sods had their way, I suppose they’d want to see the fixture taking place at the same venue on the same date from here to eternity.
Anyway, rant over – back to a look at our fifty-year record against the Red Handers. It’s a relatively positive one but also one that contains a few oddities. We’re ahead in terms of results, having won ten, drawn five and lost eight of the 23 clashes we’ve had but, despite this, we’re well behind them on the aggregate score, which stands at 24-210 to us versus 27-229 to them. This outcome is explained, as you can see from the table below, by the fact that we’ve taken a few pretty bad trimmings from them over the years.
The other unusual feature from our half-century record of matches with them (which you’ll also see began only in 1974 – we kept well clear of each other for the first 15 years under consideration here) is the high number of draws we’ve had. Five out of 23 is very high (a bit over 20%) so what odds a draw on Sunday? (That’s not just a rhetorical question by the way, as Paddy Power’s GAA section has been down for the last few days so I don’t know what they’re quoting for a draw the next day).
In terms of league clashes, we’re ahead by one, with 8 wins, 7 losses and 5 draws and, of course, we’re also – despite last August’s loss to them at HQ – out in front of them as regards the championship too, with two wins from three. Narrowing down further, our home record (they’re all league games) sees us ahead with four wins, five draws (yes, all those five draws I mentioned occurred at home) and only one defeat. At McHale Park, we’ve won two, drawn three and lost one.
Here’s the complete half-century record:
In terms of recent form, they’re seeking their third win in a row over us, having beaten us narrowly twice last year – first in an unimportant league match up in Healy Park (in April, of course) and then in that rather more important All-Ireland qualifier at Croke Park (in August, for a change). They obviously saw that one as correcting the record following the job we did on them back in 2004 at the quarter-final stage but that sweet memory from our perspective should act as an incentive the next day because, like then, they’re the reigning All-Ireland champions and so beating them would be a nice way to end what has been a fairly uneven league campaign for us. Mind you, the last time they played us in McHale Park as All-Ireland champions was earlier in 2004 (March it was this time, just for a change, like) and that was when they recorded their only win in the fifty-year period over us at that venue.
Bah! I don’t know why I’m saying all this because the match will, of course, end in a draw on Sunday. Not only is this the outcome of choice between us at McHale Park, it would also be the one result that ensures we both survive in Division 1 next year. You heard in here first, okay?