Do or die test right out the gate for Kerry
THE last meeting of these two sides in top flight was a Tyrone victory which relegated Kerry. On Sunday, next a Tyrone loss may relegate them – such is the importance that Tyrone have put on this match.
"We did brilliant to stay in Division 1 last season after a real poor start to the year. We have put in about 10 weeks of work now at this stage and know that a good start to the league will inspire confidence in a young team," Tyrone boss Paudge Quinn told The Kerryman this week.
"We have had to bring in a lot of new players over the last year as we have six experienced players out with long term injuries and we are now a more stable unit."
Still he is hugely excited about heading to Kingdom to play a great team.
"Ah Kerry are a great team. Seven of their players are heading to Hong Kong as All Stars, but we feel we are doing enough to be able to put in a good shift. Maybe the fact that we have been here before may stand to us."
William O'Sullivan is expecting nothing short of a battle on his first day.
"Tyrone may not hit the radar at the top end, but they have survived in Division 1 for the last number of years when we were not able to. In many ways, they mirror us as they are in the shadow of Monaghan for a long while. They have been hit very hard with injuries and have been forced to bring in a lot of new players," he noted.
While not having many household names Tyrone will depend on captain Gemma Begley and Cathy Donnelly to get their scores.
Niamh Woods is a converted centre-back now favoured at centre-forward, while Angelina McShane, Carol Dooher and Laura McGillan will be other talent players to watch out for.
Kerry have had only a few sessions ahead of this opener as many players are unavailable due to basketball and College commitments. Eight Kerry players were on Kennedy Cup action for UCC and UL recently.
Aoife Lyons, Caroline Kelly, Mairead Finnegan and Laura Rogers are on the injured list with Aisling Leonard not back until the end of March. However, Kerry having gone pointless in their last stint in Division 1 should pick up their first three here. Anything else ahead of a trip to Dublin and the storm clouds may gather.
Kerry will name their team on Friday after training