Friday 19 January 2018

O'Neill and Carlin back in Tyrone mix for Kildare game

Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill
Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

TYRONE manager Mickey Harte welcomes Dermot Carlin back into contention for Saturday night's qualifier clash with Kildare.

The veteran defender suffered a broken nose a few weeks ago but he is ready to return for the trip to Newbridge as the Red Hand look to inflict a first qualifier defeat on the Lilies under Kieran McGeeney.

Captain Stephen O'Neill is also in line to return to the side, but Kevin Gallagher is out after turning his ankle in the game against Roscommon, along with long-term absentee Niall Morgan.

O'Neill's availability is a major boost. In the wake of Tyrone's Ulster championship defeat to Donegal, Harte made the bold prediction that his side would reach the last eight, and a return to the form that O'Neill hit in the league would make that more likely.

Monday's draw handed Tyrone a difficult path as they must trump back-door specialists Kildare and Leinster finalists Meath to feature on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

"If I'm not confident that we can do that, then how are the players going to be confident that they can do that?" Harte asked yesterday at the launch of Mater Foundation Croghan Hill Challenge.

"But you shouldn't confuse confidence with arrogance.


"If you're arrogant and think you're going to be there regardless, come what may... that's not what I mean. I mean we'll be very determined to do everything we can, and I believe we're good enough to be in the last eight.

"You never know who you're going to meet along the way but we believe we're good enough to be a last-eight team.

"We have to prove that on the field. If you get some tougher challenges to do that, so be it."

The Lilies' wait for a Leinster title goes on after their hammering by Dublin, but Harte insists they are still a "top side" who would have gathered titles had they played in other provinces.

"(The Dublin game) isn't reflective of how good Kildare are," he said. "I'm sure they want to put that right and they did that to some degree against Louth – they showed they are much better than they played against Dublin.

"They are a top side. Over the years with Kieran McGeeney, they have always been in the knockout end of the season by whatever path they took.

"They are unfortunate that with Dublin around in Leinster in the last 10 years, they were always going to be playing second fiddle.

"Had they been in another province I'm sure they would have been provincial champions a few times in those years."

Irish Independent

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