Sports

Tyrone and Donegal the unlikely strugglers

Thursday, 12 January 2017

TYRONE and Donegal are the unlikely strugglers in Group C following the opening round of the 2017 Dr McKenna Cup.

The two Ulster giants crashed to defeat, and now face elimination from the competition, with crucial games coming up next weekend.

Gerard Smith's first half goal set Cavan up for a four points win over the Red Hands at Breffni Park, while Ryan McHugh downed his own county with a dramatic stoppage time winning goal as Ulster University scored a 2-20 to 4-13 win at Ballybofey.

Donegal had gone ahead with goals from Eoghan Ban Gallagher and Michael Carroll, but saw the game taken from them right at the death.

Despite the disappointment of defeat for the holders, Niall Sludden believes the Dr McKenna Cup will serve Tyrone well in preparation for a tough season ahead.

It will give us a chance to work on systems, different things, getting things checked out and trying them out as well, he said.

So it should give us a good framework before we go into the league, and there will be high intensity in those games as well, he said.

The Dromore man believes it is important to continue to be competitive in the remaining two group games, in order to build some momentum ahead of next mohth s return to Division One of the National Football League

Any competition we enter, we want to win, and we'll be going out hopefully to do that.

I think every game is really important nowadays. Maybe years ago you wouldn't have looked on those games as being great preparation coming into the season, but now it's really important coming into the McKenna Cup and the league.

I know for myself, coming in last year, and for any younger boys trying to break into the team, it s really important, because it gives you a chance to play against good players.

Tyrone face further tests against Donegal and Ulster University in the toughest group of the competition.

It's a really tough group. We faced Cavan a couple of times last year, and we have got them in Division One as well.

We're going to be meeting them again, and this year we're going to be playing against the top tier teams in Division One, so it will be a good test early on.

And you have Donegal and Jordanstown, who have a number of quality county players, so it's going to be really tough.

A number of new boys are coming in wanting to impress as well, so when you do get your chance you have to make the most of it.

I suppose I did that last year, but 2017 is different to 2016, so I just want to prove myself again.

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