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Thursday 15 November 2018

Red Hands running game to win

IN-FORM: Connor McAliskey. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
IN-FORM: Connor McAliskey. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kevin McStay's policy of naming his team almost a week in advance of their forthcoming Championship match means we already know Fintan Cregg and Cathal Compton will come in at centre-back and full-forward to the team that won last week's epic with Armagh in Portlaoise.

Tyrone meanwhile, enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the same venue just as the sparks were cooling on Roscommon's win, a sort of energy-conserving 16-point win over a Cork team that hit rock bottom at the final whistle.

In truth, it was impossible to tell whether Tyrone are in any better shape now for a genuine assault at an All-Ireland than they were when Monaghan beat them in Ulster.

Cork's rookie goalkeeper Mark White made three excellent first half saves before Tyrone started walking in their three goals and the standard of basic one-on-one defending from the Rebels was utterly atrocious.

Encouragingly, Mark Bradley came off the bench. There is still no sign of Lee Brennan, however, but perversely, their combined absences has seemed to help Mickey Harte solve the problem of an anonymous inside forward line, with Connor McAliskey coming into serious form in the qualifiers.

He has scored 2-20 in Tyrone's last four matches, while Richie Donnelly and Ronan O'Neill have also had their moments when required.

Roscommon's performance last week was impressive, even if they were only a point up in injury-time.

As ever, Cathal Cregg was excellent throughout, Enda Smith was a towering, domineering influence while between them, the Murtagh brothers, Ciarán and Brian, and Donal Smith contributed a total of 0-15 in attack.

It should be tighter than the odds suggest but Tyrone have the better running game to get their 'Super 8' campaign off to a winning start.

ODDS: Tyrone 4/11, Draw 9/1, Roscommon 3/1

VERDICT: Tyrone

  • SFC Q-FINAL GROUP 2: TYRONE v ROSCOMMON (Croke Park, Today, 5.0, Sky Sports)

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