Sports

Gripping showdown at Croke Park

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Gripping showdown at Croke Park thumbnailTyrone will take on reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin in a hotly anticipated semi-final at Croke Park, Dublin, on Sunday.

IT'S being billed as the match of the season, a massive contest between two of the game's heavyweights, and Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final between Tyrone and Dublin is just days away.

The Red Hands have been working on a plan to halt Dublin's bid to win the Sam Maguire Cup for a third successive season, and this weekend it will unfold before a sell-out crowd at Croke Park.

Whether it will be good enough to dethrone the champions remains to be seen, and will continue to be the subject of intriguing debate up until referee David Coldrick throws the ball in.

Neither side has been tested on their way to this weekend's eliminator, coasting through their respective provinces before the Red Hands routed Armagh by 18 points and Dublin handed out a ten pointd beating to Monaghan in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

But Tyrone's form has been highly impressive. They have been racking up big scores while maintaining a well organised and highly effective defensive system.

That system will, however, be tested to the limit by a star-studded Dublin attack that has so far been unstoppable.

Quality on both sides will shine, bit this will be a tactical battle in which Mickey Harte will attempt to outwit Jim Gavin and find ways to exploit whatever weaknesses may exist in the Dublin set-up.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte believes the disappointment of losing to Mayo in last year's quarter-final has been driving his players on, and they have added to their game by working on the creation and execution of more scoring chances.

"It makes you try to do better of course. We were trying very hard last year. We had a very good season up until we mete Mayo, and we did create many more chances than we converted, so that is something that the players have thought long and hard about," said Harte.

"I have always said in all the years I have been involved in management of teams, I'd rather be creating chances, even if you are not taking as many as you'd like to, than not create chances at all.

"When you're creating chances, there's always a chance that you will get enough to do. If you're not creating chances, then you're certainly not going to be in with a chance to win anything.

"So we have worked very much on people preparing to take on shots, but you can't just wait until the day of the game to do that. We need this in training every night, we need players who may not normally be shooters finding themselves in position to take scores.

"I think that has contributed to the spread of scores that we have had, that we now have players who don't believe, 'I'll get a nosebleed here if I'm in position to take a shot, I am prepared and capable of taking this on'.

"Now some people will have a higher return from their shots than others, but that shouldn't stop people from taking those shots, unless there's somebody in a better place.

"Yes, there has been a whole lot of thought around the idea of finishing better, but I can't say that that transformation will just take place in one year either.

"We have hit some purple patches this year, and when you do that, it actually gives a confidence to the entire team to say, if we take this one, we can get more than this.

"So it's not the scores in themselves, it's the confidence it gives to people, and the whole idea that lots of people score on every day that we have played this year, to me that's a good thing."

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