Mickey Harte is braced for a ferocious Kildare challenge in Sunday’s NFL Division One clash.
Last March, the Red Hand qualified for the semi-finals by virtue of their 1-13 to 0-10 result in Newbridge, and followed that up by beating the Lilywhites by 1-11 to 0-12 in an All-Ireland Qualifier tie.
“Kildare is nearly our home pitch now. We played on it twice last year, so we’ll soon be in it as often as we are in Omagh,” said Harte.
But the Tyrone boss has been impressed by the quality of Kildare’s football this season under new manager Jason Ryan.
“They have a new manager in there, they have a new energy with them, they won one, lost one, so they’re keen for points as well. It will be a real battle.”
While most teams will be shaking off the cobwebs following a three-week break in the league programme, Tyrone are coming off the back of last week’s useful outing in the Dr McKenna Cup final.
Harte places a high value on competitive action, through which players have been able to maintain the sort of momentum and sharpness a training session can never provide.
“It’s better that training, it’s better than any amount of training, because match fitness, you just can’t simulate that anywhere.
“The only way you can get that is on the field of play, and we certainly had a tough contest.”
A clutch of players returning belatedly to action gained valuable match time in their recent McKenna Cup win over Cavan which will put them in the frame for Sunday’s clash.
Sean Cavanagh, Kyle Coney, Mark Donnelly and PJ Quinn all started for the first time in 2014 at the Athletic Grounds, and a strong Tyrone squad is gradually taking shape.
Harte added: “It’s always good for players who haven’t had a chance for a while to get an opportunity to show what they can do, and I suppose for them to see what’s required at this level.”
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