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‘Tyrone will come out all guns blazing, Kerry haven’t been tested in any shape or form’ - Enda McGinley

Red Hand legends say Kerry are favourites but Tyrone men can win semi-final

Enda McGInley in action for Tyrone in the ‘00s. ‘It’s going to be a challenge to beat Kerry,’ he says. Photo: Ray McManus/Sporstfile

Eavan Murray

Old and often bitter rivalries between Tyrone and Kerry have been laid to rest but a smouldering desire to come off the best will be ignited today in Croke Park.

Tyrone know they have a mountain to climb against Kerry but two legends of the game say nothing is beyond reach for the Ulstermen.

Enda McGinley, who was key figure in the glory days of Tyrone’s three All-Ireland wins under Mickey Harte in the ’00s, says both teams have a healthy respect for each other.

“There is definitely a good rivalry there, and I know from growing up in our house, Kerry was the ultimate.

“As a player, when you got to play against Kerry, it always felt very special.

“And I would imagine for the current Tyrone players, it still feels the same.

“That’s a nod to the respect we had for their position in the game and the fact that we were able to turn them over on some big days, that only added to the achievement.

“Their current team is an absolutely brilliant one and they are playing stunning football.

“And it’s going to be a big challenge for our lads to do it. Dublin has obviously been the big team for a long time but there is still something very, very magical about Kerry in terms of their standing in the game and any time you get the chance to take them down, you want to do that,” he says.

McGinley is certain the Covid outbreak that struck down the Tyrone team just weeks ago will not feature in today’s result.

“I know the management, and I know the way (joint managers) Brian (Dooher) and Fergal (Logan) would approach this.

“From the minute everybody was back training they would have had a complete and a very, very stern approach that no excuses would be allowed enter the players’ heads.

“From a team and management point of view, they absolutely demand and expect of themselves the very best of performances.

“And a performance worthy of an All-Ireland semi-final. I’d be pretty confident Tyrone are in a position to put in a really good performance because nothing else will do against this particular Kerry team.”

And he added: “I don’t think we will be speaking about Covid after the game.”

Another Tyrone legend Damien O’Hagan who was part of 1986 team that met Kerry in the All-Ireland football final agrees.

“Tyrone will come with all guns blazing against Kerry.

“Kerry is the team to beat now that Dublin is gone, but Tyrone won’t fear them.

“Kerry beating Tyrone off the pitch in the national league is actually a great incentive for Tyrone players.

“I’d imagine Tyrone are quietly confident.

“They can ask questions of Kerry. If they stay in the game and don’t let Kerry get a run on them it could all work out.

“Kerry are favourites and rightly so,” he says.

“But the big thing I would be asking is, what is in the Kerry team?

“They ran through Munster, and it’s a good few weeks since they had a game. They haven’t been tested in any shape or form.”

The clock is ticking.

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