Tyrone injury woe as Bradley and Brennan ruled out.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

TYRONE will be without key forwards Mark Bradley and Lee Brennan for their All-Ireland Qualifier clash with Meath on Saturday week.

Brennan has been ruled out for eight weeks with a hamstring injury, while a knock on the ankle means Bradley faces a five-week lay-off.

Trillick ace Brennan, who was the NFL Division One top scorer this season, aggravated a hamstring injury in the Ulster SFC defeat to Monaghan, while Killyclogher's Bradley damaged ligaments in the early stages of the same game at Healy Park.

The loss of the talented pair means manager Mickey Harte must adjust his attacking strategy for the trip to Pairc Tailteann.

Brennan was a doubt going into the clash with the Farney men, and worst fears were realised when he suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury picked up in a club game some weeks earlier.

Harte also gambled on the fitness of Colm Cavanagh and Tiernan McCann, who also went into the provincial opener with doubts hanging over their fitness following injury setbacks, and neither was able to complete the game.

A worrying injury situation is made all the worse by the fact that Peter Harte will miss the next game through suspension, having received a straight red card in the closing stages of the Ulster Championship quarter-final defeat to Mona ghan.

Tyrone face a long road back through the Qualifiers and Super 8s if they are to reach the latter stages of the All-Ireland series, but team captain Mattie Donnelly believes the younger members of the team will have gained valuable experience from the narrow loss to Monaghan.

"There was a lot of learning out of that. It is in essence a very young Tyrone team, a lot of new faces," he said.

"It's a harsh lesson, but hopefully we can regroup and get going for the next day out."

Donnelly bemoaned the loss of two of the team's most important players, Colm Cavanagh and Tiernan McCann, both of whom were coming off a lengthy absence through injury.

"The two of them have been there and done that. Obviously in those kind of situations, you need all the experience you can get.

"There might have been doubts over their fitness or involvement in the lead-up to it, but you need those boys on the pitch.

"We still thought we had enough on the pitch to get over the line, but you have to give credit for Monaghan they were full value.

"We had full intent of going for a third Ulster title in a row, and that's not on the cards any more, so we're gutted, to be honest."

But the Trillick man is confident his team possesses the character and resilience to go on a run through the Qualifiers and into the Super 8s.

"We have been here before, I have been in changing rooms like that before.

"You seem a long way away, but it's a long year, and we just have to gather again."

As he reflects on strong Tyrone spells in both halves, but counts the cost of Monaghan's golden spell either side of half-time, when they racked up 1-3 in the space of six minutes.

"They were massively crucial in the end. We got ourselves in a good position at both periods of the game, and we were two points up just before half-time, which would have been a good position.

"But then obviously they hit us with a sucker punch with the goal. They also had a good start to the second half, and we even reeled that in again, but look, they finished stronger, so it's very disappointing."

For the first time in a decade and a half, Tyrone didn't have a single All-Ireland medallist in their side, following the departure of Cathal McCarron and Colm Cavanagh from the action.

"When he (McCarron) went off, our oldest player was probably 27 and below, so we're a young team, but we're a very experienced team, so we can't really make excuses for that," said Donnelly.

Meanwhile, Peter Harte has expressed his annoyance at the constant changes in the way the GAA runs its competitions and games, with the latest innovation, the Super 8s, set to begin this summer.

"I just wish they would stop tweaking things," he said. "This past six or seven years, there has been something changing most years, whether it's a new rule, new concept, new idea.

"Whether it's the right or wrong thing, I'm not sure. Maybe time will tell, but it's a bit frustrating when you're in your playing career and things are chopping and changing around you.

"You'd like to get a wee bit more consistency in the rules and the way it's going. After this year people might say it's brilliant, or want to go back to the way it was, time will tell."

Having lost to Monaghan in the Ulster SFC quarter-final, Tyrone face a tricky run through the Qualifiers and the Super 8s if they are to reach the latter stages of the All-Ireland championship.

"It's a journey into the unknown this year. It's hard to know what way the whole season will unfold, but one thing is for sure, you're going to need your squad this year," said Harte.

"If you do go through the front door, you still have three games in Ulster, and if you go through the back door, you have four games in the Qualifiers, and if you're lucky enough to get into the Super 8s, you have another three.

"So you're talking about six, seven games before you get anywhere near the business end of the season.

"A big squad, and keeping people fit and fresh is probably going to be the key to success this year."


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