Midweek again and so the countdown is on ahead of our final National League match of 2020. It’s a big one for us too, as we need to win it if we’re to hold onto our Division One status for another year. This Round 7 tie sees us up against Tyrone at MacHale Park where throw-in on Sunday is set for 2pm. Fermanagh’s Niall Cullen is the ref for it and the game will be streamed live on the TG4 Player with full deferred coverage also available on TG4.
We head into Sunday with our fate very much in our own hands. It’s all very simple – if we beat Tyrone we stay up. If we lose, of course, we’re goners and if we draw we need a dig out from results elsewhere. As the saying goes, the Good Lord helps those who help themselves so we know what we need to do.
Tyrone sit one point above us in the table having garnered six points in the seven games they’ve played this year. It’s worth a quick recap on those as, no more than ourselves, they’ve had a bit of a topsy-turvy League campaign in 2020.
Way back in late January, Mickey Harte’s team began with a win. That was a 1-14 to 1-9 success over Meath at Healy Park. The following weekend, though, they went under 1-12 to 0-11 to Ulster rivals Monaghan at Castleblaney.
Round 3 saw them claim a notable scalp when, in a match that was played at Edendork as Storm Ciara had rendered Healy Park unplayable, they beat Kerry by a single point, 0-14 to 0-13.
A fortnight later, however, they travelled down to Pearse Stadium and found themselves on the end of a real hiding. The 2-25 to 0-12 pounding they suffered that day was their worst result under Mickey Harte.
Dublin wouldn’t have been their first choice opponents after that traumatic experience. However, with concerns about Covid already starting to come to the fore that weekend at the end of February, the Red Hand County claimed their second major scalp of the spring as they got the better of the Dubs by 0-10 to 0-7.
Their Round 6 match wasn’t, of course, played until last Sunday afternoon. Getting a result out of Donegal in Ballybofey is always a bit of an ask and Tyrone weren’t able to do this as the home side prevailed by 2-17 to 2-13. That result secured Donegal’s Division One status while it left Tyrone needing to get something from the trip to Castlebar to stay up.
Getting results in MacHale Park is, though, something Tyrone are pretty good at. Two years ago they humbled us at the venue, winning by 2-14 to 0-8, and the previous two times they played us in the League at Castlebar – in 2015 and 2013 – they won as well.
So Tyrone will have no worries rocking up to MacHale Park expecting that a win is well within their capabilities. That said, as we really do tend to perform better with our backs to the wall, they’ll know that it’s a win they’ll have to earn if they’re going to get it.
Which brings us to the small matter of the Ulster Championship. A week after Tyrone play us, they’re heading back to MacCumhaill Park to face Donegal in a knockout Ulster quarter-final clash. I think it’s fair to conclude that, even at this stage, that game will be occupying their thoughts to a greater degree than our meeting on Sunday.
So, they have the better record between us at MacHale Park, we’re in flying form after last weekend, they’ve followed every loss in this League campaign with a win, we’re the toughest of opponents when it’s really put up to us, their minds might not be fully on the job at hand on Sunday.
What does that mean in terms of who is likely to prevail on Sunday? I’ve no idea so it’s over to you for a crowd-sourced view on that.
How will we do against Tyrone?
- Win (80%, 614 Votes)
- Lose (14%, 105 Votes)
- Draw (7%, 50 Votes)
Total Voters: 769