GAA: Derry legend Tony Scullion says Oak Leafers on a mission against Tyrone

23 January 2016; Padraig McNulty, Tyrone, in action against Conor McAtamney, Derry. Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Final, Tyrone v Derry, Athletic Grounds, Armagh. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
23 January 2016; Padraig McNulty, Tyrone, in action against Conor McAtamney, Derry. Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup Final, Tyrone v Derry, Athletic Grounds, Armagh. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE

While the bulk of the Red Hand supporters regard Celtic Park as a cold house for visiting Tyrone teams, Tony Scullion says the recent home record is no big shake for Derry teams.

“I know Tyrone people think Celtic Park is far from a happy hunting ground for their teams over a good many years but I’m not so sure. I’d love to know the stats, because we don’t have a great record there ourselves over the last few years” says the straight-talking Oak Leaf selector.

“The way I look at this is that it’s really just like any other venue we go to; it’s a Gaelic football pitch with a set of goalposts at either end - and it’s the same for both teams” added the Ballinascreen men, who says Tyrone will travel with loads of confidence and belief.

“They have already played us four times under the new Derry management and they have finished up winners every time, so they have very good reason to be pretty optimistic about winning on Sunday.”

Looking at that bald statistic, then is that the hurtful reason which will spur the Oak Leaf men to dig especially deep and exact an measure of revenge - particularly since manager Mickey Harte readily acknowledges that Tyrone are flattered by the unbeaten record and should have lost half of those derby meetings?

“That might well be the case, I suppose. But, hey, what other motivation do you need going into Sunday’s match? It’s a quarter-final of the Ulster Senior Football Championship, for heaven’s sake!” quips the All-Ireland medal winner and AllStar from the 90s.

“You have to go all the way back to 1998 for the last time we won the provincial title and that’s just not good enough for a county like Derry. We simply have to address that situation.

“These players wear their jersey with pride and rightly so, because it’s a great honour to represent your county. They all know that in return they will have to stand up and be counted and I hope you will see on Sunday that they’ll do that at Celtic Park.

“It won’t be easy to win this match because Tyrone are very, very difficult to beat. I said before the National League final that, unusually, I wouldn’t predict the outcome - but that they would get their fill of it against Cavan.

“I went to the match and I watched Tyrone never being in any trouble from start to finish. They are a good team at managing games. They know their system and know each other’s play. They are league champions and we’re still in Division Two and that’s also why they are hot favourites.

“We are still without Enda Lynn after his ankle injury in the McKenna Cup final, while Dermot McBride is only on the way back. They are great Derry stalwarts and will be missed.

“But the guys who go out on Sunday are on a mission and realise that only their best will be good enough. Please God, they will show they are good enough to win” he added.