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Pádraig Hampsey of Tyrone pictured at the launch of the 2019 Allianz Football League at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast. 
Pádraig Hampsey of Tyrone pictured at the launch of the 2019 Allianz Football League at The Merchant Hotel in Belfast. 

Hampsey eyes Tyrone return


By John Harrington

Tyrone defender Padraig Hampsey hopes to be back in action with the Red Hand County for their Allianz Football League Round 3 clash with Roscommon on Sunday, February 10.

The 2018 All-Star is currently sidelined with a groin injury but his rehab is going well.

“I'd say I'm maybe two or three weeks out,” Hampsey told GAA.ie. “I had been getting a bit of groin trouble during the club championship, probably from having such a long season.

“It's not too bad, I'm nearly there now, and really want to get back at it. I was aiming to be back for the second round of the League but that might be a bit early, so maybe it'll be the third game before I'll be back fully fit

“I've been rehabbing away and working away and I'll be heading down on Sunday for the first game of the League in Killarney.

“I'm looking forward to going down even just to see what way things are going.

“It's always a good encounter. Every time we meet Kerry it's a great game and, as I said, the last time we played Kerry down in Killarney they gave us a bit of a walloping so we're looking forward to it.

“Kerry have had a lot of success with some great minor teams. It'll be tough, but we're really looking forward to it.”

Tyrone will bring a good deal of momentum into Sunday’s clash with Tyrone after beating Armagh in last Saturday’s highly competitive Bank of Ireland McKenna Cup Final.

Darren McCurry, who opted out of the panel last year, was Man of the Match against Armagh, and Hampsey believes the Tyrone squad is stronger now than ever.

“Yeah, there's a few lads back in with Kyle (Coney) and Darren (McCurry) back in,” he said. “They both had great championships with their clubs so you couldn' tlook past them.

“A few other lads that have been brought in are going really well too. I was talking to a few lads at training last night and we were saying that the squad as a whole has probably been the most competitive it's been in years.

“The competition for places is massive this year and hopefully that should stand to us.”

Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey in action against Dublin's Paul Mannion in the 2018 All-Ireland SFC Final. 
Tyrone's Padraig Hampsey in action against Dublin's Paul Mannion in the 2018 All-Ireland SFC Final. 

Hampsey will surely be drafted straight back into the team when he recovers full fitness after really establishing himself as lynchpin of the side in last year’s Championship.

His PwC All-Star was a fitting recognition of the full-back's form in 2018, but he believes he still has room for improvement.

“It was massive, a nice one to get at the end of last year,” said Hampsey. “You're looking to get better every year and you're trying to find small tweaks in your game that you can make and improve on.

“Every night you go out you're trying to improve yourself whether that's in the gym getting stronger and faster or it's getting better at going forward or defensively getting better.

“You definitely don't want to get complacent and sit back. I want to improve on last year, even. The All-Star was nice to pick up, but I want to have a better year this year than I did last year so I'm really looking forward to getting back at it.”

Hampsey also believes that Tyrone as a collective have areas to improve on in 2019.

They did well to reach last year’s All-Ireland Final, but the defeat to Dublin exposed weaknesses they still need to work on.

“We need to work on all aspects of play, both defending and attacking,” admitted Hampsey.

“It can often come down to shot selection and there were probably a few decisions in the All-Ireland Final that we could look back on and say we could have done a lot better. We were maybe a bit rash at times.

“We're working hard on that to get better on it every day that we go out. Kerry is a good game for us this weekend and hopefully we can put in a good performance and improve on every aspect of the things that we've been working on this past while, particularly shot selection and game-management.”