Brian Dooher captained Tyrone to win the All-Ireland final against Kerry in 2005 and 2008
Tyrone boss Brian Dooher says Kerry will be a “rise” over Ulster’s youngest opponents in Saturday’s Football League Division One semi-finals.
In the Tyrone game, they travel south after being limited to Ulster in the compressed league campaign so far.
“It will definitely be our biggest test,” Dooher told BBC Sport.
The Tyrone Joint manager who led the Red Hands to victory over the Kingdom in the All Ireland Finals in 2005 and 2008 was impressed by Kerry’s performance when they drew against Dublin three weeks ago and he insists it The current Kingdom lineage has much more to offer -up than the remarkable talents of David Clifford.
“You and Dublin are the barometer out there. They showed how good they are in the league performance against Dublin a few weeks ago.
“They are definitely a big step up for us and a good challenge and benchmark for us.”
Results could mean there is no league final
A Division One final can only take place next weekend if both Tyrone and Dublin win Saturday’s semi-finals, but Dooher says that won’t be a priority in the heat of the moment at Fitzgerald Stadium.
“You’d love to see a league final played and a league competition finished. It’s a great competition we have and for that it should be respected.
“But we’re just happy to play football. We look forward to the trip to Killarney.
“The guys try to present themselves as best they can. We’ll ask them to do their best and we’ll see where that takes us.”
While Dooher acknowledges Clifford’s star quality, the Red Hands boss dares that the precocious talent’s brother, Paudie, was “likely the league’s find” while also having the utmost respect for strikers like Tommy Walsh, Killian Spillane and Sean O’Shea enjoys, and Paul Geaney, as he also names midfielders David Moran and Paul Murphy.
“Where do you start and where do you stop?” says Dooher after figuring out the long list of Kingdom classes.
But Tyrone has his own attacking talent with Darragh Canavan, Conor McKenna and Paul Donaghy added to the Red Hands front resources, with Lee Brennan also back in the group.
Clonoe man Connor McAliskey dropped out of the Red Hands squad a few weeks ago
McAliskey door not closed – Dooher
Since Dooher and Feargal Logan could also use Peter Harte, Mattie Donnelly, Darren McCurry, Mark Bradley and Niall Sludden as attack options, Clonoe man Connor McAliskey dropped out of the squad two weeks ago after not getting any playing time in the opening league Games against Donegal, Armagh and Monaghan.
Dooher says the door is unlocked for McAliskey or anyone else – including clubmates Declan McClure and Danny McNulty, who also stepped down from the panel.
“It’s just disappointing, but I respect your decision. You want to play football for your club again and that’s a fair point.”
“We have said from the start that we will not close the door on anyone and that we will continue to hold this line.
“If someone is doing well with their club and is ready to go back to setup, we will take care of everyone at all times.”
Dooher added that Saturday’s competition is likely “a week early” for Cathal McShane, but he appears to be on track to be available for the Ulster Championship due July 10 for the Red Hands Will start home against defending champion Cavan.
With Michael Murphy back out for Donegal with a hamstring injury, Patrick McBrearty’s performance could be decisive in their hopes of upset Dublin at Kingspan Breffni.
McBrearty’s brilliance in the final quarter helped Donegal snap the Armagh tie that squeezed them into the semifinals, although Saturday’s game will be their last game in this year’s league, whatever.
Armagh receives Rossies in the relegation game
After looking for a spot in the semifinals on track, Armagh will instead be tasked with beating Roscommon at the Athletic Grounds on Sunday to maintain his Division One status.
The Orchard men failed to do that on home soil last fall, although the result did not prevent them from returning to Division One with the Rossies.
In the other Division One relegation play-off, Monaghan faces a Galway team that has not impressed after it was on Sunday despite the Violation of Farney County’s exercise ban in April.
Due to the timing of the championship games on the last weekend in June, it is already certain that there will be no Finals of Division Two and Division Four.
The interest of Ulster’s Division Two is limited to the bottom of the table as Down welcomes Laois in a likely nervous relegation play-off on Saturday night.
After heavy losses to Mayo and Meath, Down almost threw away the eight-point lead against Westmeath two weeks in the middle of the second half as they were lucky enough to score a 0-13 to 1-9 win.
Laois didn’t do well in this league, but Paddy Tally’s side is unlikely to be in awe.
Derry will secure Division 2 football if they defeat Limerick in Carrick-on-Shannon, but Ulster Champion Cavan must defeat Wicklow in Navan to maintain his Division 3 status
Ulster trio in major Division Three games
Both semi-finals of Division Three will take place on Saturday. Valuable PhD positions are up for grabs while Derry meets Limerick in Carrick-on-Shannon and Offaly meets Fermanagh in Tullamore.
A Division Three final will only take place if the two Ulster teams win.
Ulster Champion Cavan must defeat Wicklow in Navan on Saturday afternoon to avoid an unthinkable relegation to Division Four.
The mention of Division Four and Antrim must avoid slipping at Dungarvan against Waterford on Sunday to secure promotion.
The Saffrons won their three round robin games against Louth, Sligo and Leitrim with one point, but showed listless play phases in all three games.
The team, now led by Enda McGinley, can’t afford any of this on Sunday as they want to banish the memory of the horror show against Wicklow last October when the 7-11 concession blew their hopes for promotion in smoke.
Allianz Football League semi-finals / play-offs
Saturday June 12th
|Tyrone||v||Kerry||Fitzgerald Stadium, 5:00 p.m. BST|
|Donegal||v||Dublin||Kingspan Breffni, 7:15 pm|
|cork||v||Westmeath||Ui Chaoimh Park, 14:00|
|Low||v||Laois||Pairc Esler, 6:15 p.m.|
|Derry||v||limerick||Carrick-on-Shannon, 4:00 p.m.|
|Offaly||v||Fermanagh||Tullamore, 6:00 p.m.|
|Cavan||v||Wicklow||Tailteann Park, 14:00|
|Carlow||v||Louth||Dr. Cullen Park, 4:00 p.m.|
Sunday June 13th
|Armagh||v||Roscommon||Sports field, 15:00 BST|
|Monaghan||v||Galway||Clones, 3:45 pm|
|Clare||v||Mayo||Cusack Park, 1:45 p.m.|
|Kildare||v||Meath||Newbridge, 2:00 p.m.|
|Longford||v||Tipperary||Pearse Park, 3:45 p.m.|
|Waterford||v||Antrim||Dungarvan, 12:15 p.m.|