All Ireland Minor Championship: Dara Donnelly seizes chance to impress for Tyrone
THE Augher club in general and Aidan Cassidy in particular suffered a cruel blow when a dislocated ankle ruled him out of the Tyrone side for the Ulster senior football championship.
But while Cassidy continues his recovery, a substantial measure of compensation has come the club’s way following Dara Donnelly’s explosive performance when Tyrone overcame Mayo in the All Ireland minor semi-final on Sunday.
Not rated good enough to start, Donnelly was drafted into the action in the 39th minute as a replacement for Peter Canavan’s nephew Thomas.
And he had scarcely become accustomed to the pace of he game before he was being hailed as Tyrone’s messiah.
His stunning 48th minute goal effectively set the young Red Hands on the path to victory after Mayo had earlier led by a seven-point margin and looked to have all but booked their place in the final against either Galway or Cork.
But Donnelly’s crucial strike — his namesake Richard rocketed in Tyrone’s first goal — was to prove the catalyst for a dramatic last quarter when Raymond Munroe’s side were totally dominant.
The manager now finds himself confronted by interesting selection options for the final but he’s certainly not complaining.
“Obviously our substitutes did the business for us and Dara’s goal came at just the right time, allowing us to build on the momentum we had going then. Mayo finished the first half with seven points on the bounce and we were very worried at that stage but we did not panic,” said Munroe.
Two years ago Tyrone were All Ireland champions and Munroe is now convinced that the current side has the ability to reclaim the Tom Markham Cup.
“Armagh were All Ireland minor champions last year and it would be nice if the trophy were to stay in the province for another year at least,” said Carrickmore man Munroe.
Cork, of course, beat Armagh in the quarter-final and will start as favourites against Galway on Sunday.