Down aiming to dethrone Tyrone

Down aiming to dethrone Tyrone

12 July 2017

LET’S get ready to rumble!

The stage is set for the Ulster final in Clones on Sunday. The players are ready and the talking is nearly all done as Down continue their quest to bring the Anglo Celt Cup back to the Mournes for the first time in 23 years.

That victory over Tyrone in 1994 gave rise to Down’s fifth All-Ireland title.

Similarly in 2003, Tyrone’s defeat of Down after a replay in the decider saw the Red Hands go on to annex their first ever Sam Maguire.

The Mourne County has been on an insatiable high since Eamon Burns’ troops outclassed Monaghan in the last four  having dismantled the challenge of Armagh in the quarter-finals.

However, Tyrone have been hugely impressive as well.

They thumped Derry and hit a sensational 1-21 on their way to dismissing Donegal last day out.

This is Down’s first provincial decider since Donegal taught them a lesson in 2012.

The surroundings of St Tiernach’s Park have been much more familiar to the Tyrone faithful and they go into this tie as the reigning champions.

A near capacity crowd is expected to be in attendance while the weather forecast is cloudy with the temperature around 17 degrees for the 2pm throw in.

Only long term absentee Barry O’Hagan is set to be missing from the Down camp so the competition for places is said to be intense.

Team management wouldn’t let any of the panellists, including the quintet recently added to the panel, to play in the round of club games last Thursday night.

Tyrone will be without Ronan McNabb, but the signs are more positive for Sean Cavanagh and Darren McCurry who are expected to make the cut.

There have been a number of shocks in this year’s All-Ireland Championship with Roscommon’s Connacht final success over Galway on Sunday being one of them.

The bookies have Tyrone at 2/11 to beat the Red and Black and are offering 7/2 for the Down men to spring a shock.

Tyrone looked immense against Donegal, but the Tir Chonnail’s recent stuttering performances in the qualifiers may suggest that they weren’t up to the standard in the first place.

For Down to pull off a second surprise and especially against such vaunted opposition as Tyrone, is a huge ask. The safety net of a winnable qualifier game is there for both sides.

Nevertheless, the Down public will venture to Clones and bring all the excitement and fanfare that is usually associated with the travelling Mourne support.

Expectation levels in the county have been realistic while the team will hold absolutely no fear of Tyrone.

A surprise win is on the cards.