There's no time for panic in Tyrone

Emmet Ryan looks at the Ulster side ahead of their game against Kerry

There's no time for panic in Tyrone

Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Presseye/Matt Mackey

The short format of the league, and really most competitions in Gaelic games, makes it easy to over-react to a single result. Tyrone missed out on a shot to control their destiny last week. That, in reality, is the only significant downside to their 0-12 to 1-10 defeat at the hands of Mayo.

Look at it, briefly, from the perspective of the visitors last weekend. Staying in Division 1 is a far bigger deal to most sides, arguably all of them, than reaching the decider. Tyrone's safety was already in the bag heading into that clash and it's only natural that they weren't going to deliver an absolutely cracking performance. There were just enough flaws for a Mayo side that badly needed the win to get one. That context matters a great deal heading into Sunday's clash with Kerry.

The headlines will, naturally, focus heavily on the rivalry between the two sides that essentially dominated the opening decade of this century. It doesn't hurt that there are still quite a few players from the early days knocking around for both sides although the squads have really been through more adjustments than Trigger's broom.

Sunday is not about history and it's not about what's going to happen this summer, well not terribly. A win or draw for Kerry guarantees Division 1 status for the Kingdom next season. It would however take not only a loss to Tyrone but a series of extremely unlikely scoring feats elsewhere as well for Kerry to go down. Kerry have just enough of a reason to care but not enough to take any big risks or show their cards.

Tyrone's fate is far more favourable. Mickey Harte knows that if Mayo can do him a favour in Castlebar and Dublin likewise in Clones, then he's getting back to another league final with a win here. He's bringing down a Tyrone side hungry to be seen as a real challenger in the summer and an early trip to Croker would be useful to the cause.

That's ample motivation against a Kerry side with little to play for but Harte has another reason to ramp things up irrespective of the result. The Tyrone performance against Mayo was far from convincing in attack. Harte's known what his defence can do for most of the season and really can't have many complaints on their performances but there have been a couple of outings this year where he knows his side could have put a lot more on the scoreboard.

Addressing that without having to broaden his team's game is the biggest item on Tyrone's agenda. Those off days simply have to stop. This isn't a matter of strategic tinkering or re-thinking how Tyrone play, this is purely down to execution. His players need to be more consistent at doing what they are supposed to do.

There's the guts of two months between this game and, assuming Tyrone fail to make the league final, their next competitive outing. This is the last option to sharpen up before going up the road to Celtic Park to take on Derry. This is Harte's last guaranteed chance to fine tune his charges before the real work begins.