Longford manager Glenn Ryan has admitted that his players are relishing the challenge of playing Tyrone in the second round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers at Pearse Park on Saturday evening next, writes Deniese O’Flaherty.
Ryan believes the game will provide the perfect test for his players.“It’s a good test for them. I’d like to think that we are progressing. This is a good yardstick as to where exactly we are at. There is no doubt that we are looking forward to this big game. Tyrone will relish it too. It’s a good position to be in,” he told the Leader.
A lot has been said recently about Tyrone with many people suggesting that Mickey Harte’s charges are now a spent force. Ryan dismisses those suggestions. “I wouldn’t subscribe to the whole thing of Tyrone being an aged team. At the end of the day they should have beaten Donegal if they had to have taken their chances in the first half. There was only nine scores they got in the entire game and only eight that Donegal got. People look at the result and come to conclusions. There are still a lot of kicks left in that Tyrone team.”
Although Ryan and his players have a lot of respect for the Tyrone team that is full of All-Ireland winners and All-Stars they certainly won’t fear them on Saturday. The Longford boss said, “The lads are all excited about facing such illustrious opponents and I know they can give Tyrone a good game. They are respectful of the fact that it’s a team that has achieved a huge amount over the last 10 years. They are looking forward to the challenge of taking on Tyrone at Pearse Park. We are really starting to play as a team now as well but Tyrone will provide a stern test.”
In recent years Longford have put it up to the big guns in the qualifiers and have been hard to beat at Pearse Park. They ran the eventual All-Ireland winners Kerry close in 2009 and defeated Mayo last year. Ryan knows his players are capable of providing a difficult task for Tyrone. “They have done well against the traditionally stronger counties. You would like to think that we are capable of competing against the likes of Tyrone. This game is a real test as to whether we are up to that or not. We will do our best to get the team in the right frame of mind and hopefully things will work out.”