Saturday 19 October 2019

Tyrrell targets Tyrone

SFC qualifier, rd 3, Kildare v Tyrone, Newbridge, Today (5pm, Sky Sp)

Kildare’s Adam Tyrrell, in action for his club Moorefield, is the football championship’s current top scorer. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare’s Adam Tyrrell, in action for his club Moorefield, is the football championship’s current top scorer. Photo: Sportsfile

Who is the current top scorer in this year's senior football championship?

This is no trick question, but it's not a predictable answer either. You might take a punt on Cormac Costello, given his metronomic demolition of Wicklow and Kildare in Dublin's opening Leinster cakewalks, but he's actually second with 1-24.

First up is Adam Tyrrell with 1-26.

"Adam who?" you might riposte, if you weren't keeping a close watch on the first half of this Sam Maguire race.

You can be sure, though, that Mickey Harte is acutely aware of Tyrrell's prolific tendencies as he brings his Tyrone charges into a St Conleth's Park cauldron this evening.

The Moorefield clubman is scarcely a new kid on the block. Some might even describe him as an overnight sensation at 26 - a mercurial talent who has helped to fill the void left by Kildare's 2018 X-factor, Daniel Flynn.

But that's probably only because of Tyrrell's previous fitful involvement with the Kildare set-up. The Moorefield clubman was there in 2016, but absent for the next two seasons.

As he explained in a recent Kildare Nationalist interview, a combination of work and family commitments kept him out of the picture: he was due to head on an overseas army tour of duty to the Lebanon in early 2017, this was delayed until the November, and upon his return in May '18 he wanted to spend as much time as possible with his young daughter.

However, when asked back onto the Kildare panel by Cian O'Neill this year, he "jumped at the opportunity".

Now both parties are savouring the benefits. Even in the midst of a typically fickle Lilywhite form graph through May and June, Tyrrell has become one of O'Neill's go-to men.

He has started all five games, shooting 0-5 (4f) against Wicklow, a standout 1-7 (3f) in the Longford draw, 0-3 (2f) in the replay, 0-4 (1f) even as Dublin overwhelmed them by 15 points, and 0-7 (4f) in last Saturday's potential Belfast banana skin.


With Tyrrell, and his partner in plunder Neil Flynn, on fire and sharing 0-15, there was never a hint of an Antrim ambush. Yet after Kildare emptied their bench and Tyrrell made way for a sixth sub, they lost Flynn to an injury niggle that is sure to leave a question mark over his involvement in Newbridge this evening.

Still, Tyrrell and full-forward Ben McCormack have both been in a consistent vein of form this summer, compensating for the absence of the unpredictable, yet explosive, Flynn.

Of Tyrrell's 1-26 tally, 1-12 has come from play. McCormack has chipped in with 0-10 ... and it could have been more, when you consider his ability to break Dublin's last defensive line in that Leinster semi-final.

McCormack created three goal chances - the first was saved, the second pulled wide of the near post, the third (after a searing run) ultimately fell to Keith Cribbin who was denied by a brilliant Stephen Cluxton save.

On the same afternoon, Tyrrell initially looked to be having one of those miscueing days ... but he's a player who has always been willing to back himself, never afraid to attempt a difficult shot or pass, and he was rewarded with three audacious points from play either side of half-time.

Now for the beaten All-Ireland finalists - in their own back yard. Don't be surprised if Tyrrell backs himself again.

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