Tyrone ready for biggest test of season with All Ireland GAA glory on the cards
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Just a month ago many pundits, gaels and indeed fans out there were writing Tyrone’s epitaph in terms of making it back to the top of the national GAA Football tree but of course anyone tuned into what the O’Neill County stands for would have known it was a premature assessment.
While success must of course follow, it was still difficult not to be impressed by the form shown by the Tyrone senior football team in their dismantling of the opposition in the Dr McKenna Cup and then the performances served up against big guns Kerry, Cork, Dublin and Mayo. Ultimately that quartet are in the top 5 contenders for All Ireland glory in September yet the O’Neill County had a record of one win, two draws and a most unlucky 1 point defeat against the four in Division 1 of the league.
Yes the displays against Monaghan and Donegal were very disappointing while the draw with Derry was hard to assess such were the atrocious conditions, and many critics abruptly pointed to the relegation to Division 2 as a major “doom and gloom” scenario. However, the Championship is yet to come and, for many, the emergence and winning run of the Tyrone under 21 team has sparked new enthusiasm and belief again.
source url Under 21 winning run brings renewed optimism…
Tyrone’s hot under 21 form, particularly in the manner with which they have played, exhibiting fantastic character and endeavour in all games has in many ways kickstarted a new belief that Tyrone GAA football is very much in the mix with the best.
While we preview the All Ireland Under 21 football final against Munster champions, Tipperary, Tyrone Life also got talking with Ardboe’s rising star, go to link Michael Cassidy, for the latest of our People in Focus profiles.
The talented defender exhibited ‘swashbuckling’ quality as the O’Donovan Rossa’s centre back in 2014 and this year has excelled in his role in the Tyrone Under 21 rearguard, getting up to add a point in the impressive semi final win over Roscommon. Like many within this exciting squad of players and management he is very much relishing this next big challenge in a season when the team have delivered a knock-out punch to the “doubters” game after game.
site de rencontre 100 gratuit au quebec “No one knows the character, the fight and the determination within this bunch of lads and I know they won’t give up. People will have seen this already in the Ulster final when Donegal came back at us with 5 minutes to go to almost clinch the game. We never backed down. We stuck together as a team and that fight kept us going to the end. It has been good that the media has really given us no hope so far because it has given us a bit more bite to prove them wrong.”
There is no doubt this is the biggest test of all however for the Tyrone Under 21s. The current Tyrone squad is largely backboned by the Ulster minor championship winning side of 2012, the year in which they lost out to Meath in the All Ireland series. The All Ireland minor champions of that campaign, Dublin, were labelled as hot favourites to go all the way this season in the All Ireland Under 21 championship but they found Munster champions, Tipperary, too hot to handle in the other semi final last week. That says a great deal about the Tipperary side who have also exhibited excellent form in beating a strongly fancied Cork side in Munster.
Many of the players involved this time around were on the Tipperary team that famously won the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship in 2011 and Tipperary midfielder dating 40s sex Colin O’Riordan is determined to add another major football medal to his collection this weekend. “It would be massive to add an U21 All-Ireland to the minor title. There’s no point saying it wouldn’t. We’d love to get the U21 All-Ireland medal as well as the minor. It would be a massive achievement and that’s the goal for Saturday. Hopefully all will go well and we’ll give it a right rattle.”
O’Riordan’s is one of a number of rising stars making a name for themselves in the game for a Tipperary side which includes the likes of already established Tipperary senior footballers such as Ian Fahey, Steven O’Brien, Evan Comerford, Liam Casey and Jason Lonergan. They have proven themselves strong both in character and physique and are hugely determined to make their mark with an All Ireland win which could go a step further in catapulting them to the very top in Gaelic football.
Tyrone’s joint manager, http://havanatranquility.com/daeso/6956 Peter Canavan, is only too aware of the threat posed and the former All Ireland Under 21 and senior winning captain for Tyrone knows they face a major test and again has called for Tyrone support to travel in numbers to this huge weekend contest.
“We had to produce resilient displays against both Donegal and Roscommon and in both games we went in as underdogs to do so. I have a feeling it will take a bigger display again from the team to get past Tipperary as they have beaten a highly regarded Dublin side, who were All Ireland favourites. I would sincerely hope our Tyrone supporters will make the journey to Dublin on Saturday evening as that has been instrumental in our winning run so far and Tipperary will be there in full force. It is a hugely important game for both counties but we will be ready for the challenge”
Tyrone have produced very good wins in the Ulster series over Fermanagh (0-17 to 0-7) and Armagh (2-12 to 2-8) before a resilient display saw them deny a strongly fancied Donegal side in the provincial decider, by 1-11 to 0-13. The best display of the campaign was then delivered against Roscommon in the semi final and many of the team they defeated were in action for the Roscommon senior team which defeated Down in the Division 2 league final at Croke Park on Sunday last.
Defensivley Tyrone have looked rock solid in the series to date. The core of that defence in Trillick’s Ruairi Brennan and Coalisland’s Padraig Hampsey have been excellent in the campaign so far and they will again lead the charge from their pivotal roles. Ardboe’s Michael Cassidy and Pomeroy’s Kieran McGeary are others to excel while Senior panelist, Owen Roes’ Cathal McShane, continues to make a big impression in midfield. Trillick’s Lee Brennan has no doubt been the ‘sharpshooter’ of the entire championship and Omagh’s Conor Meyler’s impressive pace and work-rate has been superb in the attack. Dan McNulty has proven to be a big game performer and as target-man will need to be at his best again to open up a very tough Tipperary rearguard. The anticipated return of Killyclogher’s Mark Bradley from an ongoing injury is a major boost too but to be honest though Tyrone have been extremely good overall as a ‘unit’. This well organised, fit and hard-working side have displayed all the credentials of past All Ireland winning Tyrone sides with some twenty players all having stood out when on the field of play over the course of the championship.
An All Ireland title would be massively welcomed no doubt in Tipperary but in Tyrone, following possibly a somewhat lean spell in recent years, the Red Hand faithful would be in a euphoric mood if this title was secured. On the evidence to date it would be a brave man who would back against this Tyrone team going all the way on Saturday evening, even though the ‘bookies’ have installed them as ‘favourites’ this time around…
The All Ireland under 21 Football Championship Final goes down for decision in Parnell Park, Dublin, this Saturday 2nd May, 6pm.
Tickets are €20 with students concessions on the day available at €15.