'It could be like the battle of Omagh' - Ciarán Whelan expecting fireworks in this weekend's Tyrone-Dublin clash
Dublin legend Ciarán Whelan thinks this weekend's clash between Tyrone and Dublin could be a very spiky affair and predicts that a repeat of the infamous battle of Omagh could be on the cards.
This spiteful 2006 league tie saw both Tyrone and Dublin finish with 13 men. “If Paddy Russell had been God Almighty he couldn’t have refereed the game,” admitted Mickey Harte after the clash.
That league clash 12 years ago came after Tyrone had knocked Dublin out of the championship at the quarter-final stage in the previous summer.
This time around, it's Tyrone who will be looking to set the record straight after last August's heavy loss to Jim Gavin's men in their All-Ireland semi-final.
Both teams will go into Saturday night's clash with very contrasting form. Tyrone failed to fire in a four-point defeat while Dublin easily accounted for Kildare's challenge with an awesome second half display in Croke Park.
Speaking on Independent.ie's GAA podcast 'The Throw-In' in association with Allianz, Whelan said he believes that Tyrone have the players to play a more expansive game but is expecting a very tense encounter this weekend.
"Tyrone are always very strong early season but reading an interview Mickey Harte did over the weekend when he kind of half insinuated that he wasn't going to change a whole lot... from a Tyrone perspective I think they've got to back themselves a little bit more," he said.
"The style they played last year, we saw it come a cropper against Dublin and I don't think you can put that down to Dublin getting the early goal. I think it was inevitable because Dublin were well prepared in terms of how they played with width.
"He can continue with that style and maybe it will be very effective in certain games and it may be effective enough in an Ulster championship but they went to Tuam yesterday and scored three points from play which is pretty awful to be honest from a team that expects to be in the top three or four in the country.
"It's a bit of a setback for them and It's going to be interesting to see how they evolve because I would suspect that they Tyrone public want this team to come out and play a little bit more.
"It's the age-old debate. There seems to be a drive for teams to push up and play more attractive football and that is a little bit too simplistic. You have to play with the tools you're given. Every manager has to adapt to what players he has on the pitch but from a Tyrone perspective you would think they have more talent to play a more open brand of football.
"It's going to be interesting to watch them over the next 7-8 weeks.
"Next week's game, the Dubs going to Omagh is going to be a very attractive fixture. They will be looking to deal out a bit of retribution from the semi-final.
"It could be like the battle of Omagh a few years ago with the shoe on the other foot for a change.
"I think it's going to be a tense affair on Saturday night."
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