Sports

'Cup win would prepare us for league campaign' - Munroe

Thursday, 19 January 2017

'Cup win would prepare us for league campaign' - Munroe thumbnailTyrone's Jonathan Monroe holds off a tackle against Ulster University at Carrickmore.

EMERGING Tyrone star Johnny Munroe believes an extended Dr McKenna Cup run would give preparations for league action a massive boost.

The Red Hands will return to Division One of the NFL next month, and extra competitive action ahead of their opener against Roscommon would improve their prospects.

“The McKenna Cup final against Derry last year stood to us well as it was an intense, high level game but very few of the lads will know what the intensity will be like in Division One until we face it for the first time," he said.

“We can only go and prepare as best we can for that. Hopefully we can still reach the semi-final and final before we go into the league. It would be great preparation to get ready for the league campaign."

Munroe, who is preparing for his second season in the senior squad, will get his first taste of Division One football.

“I was there last year in my first year and it was a big shock the step up from what I was used to and that was just in Division Two. Division One will be a massive step up again, certainly from McKenna Cup level."

But an injury crisis has already affected prospects, with attacker Connor McAliskey ruled out for the season and Rory Brennan and Michael Cassidy set for lengthy spells out of action.

“Unfortunately that is part of the game these days and we were hit bad. We wish them all the best and hopefully they will get themselves right. But that is why you have a big panel of players.

“Injuries are just part of it. It was a bad day in terms of how many (injuries) we got on the one day. We will have to re-evaluate it come the week and just look to get the team right for next week. There are plenty of boys in the panel more than capable of getting a result."

Meanwhile, injured attacker Connor McAliskey has vowed to tackle the long hard road to recovery after rupturing his cruciate.

He has been ruled out for the rest of the season by the injury, sustained in the closing stages of the Dr McKenna Cup defeat to Cavan.

“I'll just have to pick myself up and get my mentality right, because it's going to be a big year's work still ahead to make sure I'm back and ready to play as soon as possible," he said.

“You can't really control what's set out for you, but it's about how you react. I'm going to have to take a positive attitude towards this after the operation and get straight back into rehab.

“My plan is to come back bigger and stronger and better. I had set targets, and I had planned to have a big year for Clonoe and for Tyrone. Unfortunately, the way it has worked out, that's not going to happen."

Omagh stars Ronan O'Neill and Conor Clarke have suffered similar injuries in the recent past, as has Dromore's Ronan McNabb, and McAliskey says he will draw strength from the manner in which they came back.

“You don't have to look too much further than the Tyrone team and the Clonoe team to see boys who have gone through the process in the last year or two. You have Ronan O'Neill, Ronan McNabb and Conor Clarke, who all did their cruciates, and Collie Doris from Clonoe as well.

“There's a lot of men who have travelled this road before, but there's obviously light at the end of the tunnel.

“There's going to be a change to my life for a year. What I'm not able to do on the pitch I'll have to be doing in the gym to make sure that I'm ready to come back.

“But as much hard work as there's going to be, I'll also try to enjoy the year, look about planning a summer holiday for a change and look about enjoying a few weekends away that you maybe can't do with the schedule of the GAA. But I'll have to balance it."

McAliskey believes the Tyrone squad is rich in attacking talent which will ensure they will be among the main challengers once again in 2017.

“We're struggling with a few injuries at the minute, but once we get the full squad back, the competition will be serious.

“You have Ronan O'Neill, Darren McCurry, Sean Cavanagh and Mark Bradley in there, and with other boys challenging for positions, I think it looks like a good future for Tyrone.

“Obviously last year was a big disappointment, but we'll try and get back on the road in the McKenna Cup and get as many games as possible.

“Then we'll look at Division One, we're going to be back with the big boys this year, up against the likes of Mayo and Dublin and Kerry, and we'll be able to test ourselves, challenge ourselves and see where we're at.

“We'll be looking to retain Division One status and then hopefully go on and push for the league.

“Everyone wants to win the All-Ireland and Tyrone is no different, but we have a few targets to go for before we're going to be thinking about anything like that."

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