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20th Jul 2018

Tyrone set to narrow Healy Park pitch for Dublin clash

Patrick McCarry

Home team. Home comforts.

Dublin take on Tyrone at Healy Park, Omagh on Saturday night in the Super 8s (or, as the GAA prefer, Quarter-Final Group 2 Phase 2). Both sides won their opening games in the group stages and can all but confirm an All-Ireland semi-final spot by taking the spoils this weekend.

Mickey Harte’s men were go into the game with confidence, having filleted Roscommon, but last year’s roasting by Dublin in Croke Park has surely not been expunged from their collective consciousness.

As home side, on Saturday, the Red Hand county will play the host at Healy Park. Despite not being a firm favourite of the current squad, Tyrone management are set to take advantage of being the home side by making the playing pitch narrower.

Tyrone star Sean McAliskey was quick to point out that the change was just to change a quirk of the current pitch.

The narrowing of the pitch was up for lively debate [from 45:00 below] when The GAA Hour: Live came to Cookstown to preview Tyrone vs. Dublin.

“We’ll make that pitch nice and close, and short,” former Tyrone star Conor Gormley remarked.

Brian McGuigan, who won three Sam Maguires with the county, said:

“A tighter pitch would probably suit Tyrone, you’d imagine, because Dublin played with a lot of width last year at Croke Park.”

Indeed they did, with the likes of Paul Mannion and Paddy Andrews posted out close to the sidelines and taking the position of ‘corner forward’ quite literally. It worked to devastating effect as Dublin led 1-9 to 0-5 at the break before eventually reaching the final with a scoreline of 2-17 to 0-11.

GAA Hour host Colm Parkinson recalled a story from former Galway hurler Damien Hayes about playing matches down in Portlaoise. He said;

“Damien was going on about Portlaoise and he says, ‘Jaysus, that O’Moore Park is a terrible tight pitch’.

“I was listening and I think, ‘O’Moore Park is one of the biggest pitches it the country’. It was [former Laois hurling manager] Cheddar Plunkett – he always narrowed the pitch in when they played Galway!”

Referring back to the sideline meleé in 2006’s ‘Battle of Omagh’, McGuigan joked that a narrower pitch would at least mean that subs and backroom staff from both sides would be at a safer distance should anything kick off this weekend.

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