In overcoming Kerry in the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Semi-Final, Tyrone rapped out a sharp message to the effect that they are particularly keen to reclaim the Sam Maguire Cup after a 13-year famine.
hile they are entitled to their ambition, the Red Hands will surely know that on Saturday, Mayo will pose a rather different challenge.
For a start, Mayo will not be unduly discomfited by Tyrone’s smother tackling nor unhinged by the Ulster champions’ frantic work rate.
The fact that Kerry were unable to combat these two elements contributed to their downfall but Mayo, rather than being perturbed by what is certain to be Tyrone’s all-action, in your face style, will positively embrace this challenge.
They have been down many hard roads over the years and nothing that Tyrone will bring to the table will knock them out of their stride.
Mayo are no strangers to physicality, they can transfer defence into attack at lightning pace and, like Tyrone, are familiar with playing on the edge.
While Tyrone got the better of Kerry, they know well that they have shortcomings that must be addressed if they are to get their hands on ‘Sam’ once again.
I think that goalkeeper Niall Morgan’s long kick-outs when pressed can be to Tyrone’s disadvantage while the Red Hands must brace themselves for a high level of intensity that Mayo will bring.
This is an area in which Kerry floundered — they carried the ball into the tackle repeatedly and appeared to make things easy for the Tyrone defence.
Mayo are well accustomed to playing with fire in their bellies — they thrive in bringing a frantic pace to the table and in creating chaos.
Indeed, James Horan’s side don’t mind teams trying to knock them out of their stride by messing the game up because they are capable of doing that themselves and they are well accustomed to living with the consequences.
It is probably a tad unfair to suggest that Kerry did not have enough fight in them in the semi-final but I think it can be safely assumed that Mayo’s 70-year itch to take delivery of ‘Sam’ again will be a massive spur in their bid to impose themselves on the game.
Indeed, this is what makes this particular game very intriguing. It’s almost like a throwback game because here you will have two teams who play on the front foot and you don’t get this too often in football nowadays when convoluted tactics tend to replace the more earthy virtues.
The big thing for me is that I think we are assured of a very entertaining Final. Tyrone have that doggedness and determination that can stand them in good stead when the heat is on while Mayo have underlined their tenacity and staying power over the years, particularly in the closing stages of the Championship.
While there will be a gigantic tidal wave of goodwill heading in Mayo’s direction before Saturday, this will not cause Tyrone any concerns.
They will adopt their traditional stubborn, resolute approach that has served them so well in the past and which could again prove a potent weapon this time round.
If you are looking for a pantomime villain, then Tyrone fit that particular bill perfectly. They won’t mind in the least if they rain on Mayo’s parade because they will be totally focused on putting on the best display they can.
While everyone outside of Tyrone wants Mayo to win this one, this will not make the team’s job any easier.
Whatever about the depth of feeling throughout the island — and the Final seems to be the only show in town at the minute — Tyrone’s traditional single-minded approach will ensure that no external factors will be allowed to invade their psyche.
There will not be the slightest element of sentiment — it will be a real dog-fight with each team summoning their experience, craft and skill to come out on top.
I think Tyrone will have improved for Saturday. They don’t appear to be showing any ill-effects from Covid-19 or their exertions against Kerry yet at the same time I have a nagging suspicion that Mayo could rise to the occasion.
Should this prove the case, their patient followers will enter a sporting heaven.