Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Donnelly still a vital player for Tyrone

Mark Donnelly
Mark Donnelly

It could be construed as coincidence but the only game in which Mark Donnelly did not start for Tyrone this year saw the side suffer their solitary hiccup to date.

That was against Cork in the Allianz League and even the Carrickmore player's introduction from the bench failed to tip the scales in his side's favour.

Now 28-year-old Donnelly is preparing to again prove an effective link between defence and attack when the Red Hands renew their rivalry with Kerry on Sunday.

His creativity, energy, distribution and penchant for snapping up occasional scores have helped to install him at the nerve centre of manager Mickey Harte's attacking strategy.

At a time when the spotlight tends to be focused on young guns such as Conor Clarke, Connor McAliskey, Paddy McNeice, Ronan McNamee and Ryan McKenna, Donnelly is sending out a reminder that the more senior citizens still have a role to play in a new-look side that could yet send the Kingdom tumbling into Division Two. In Tyrone's wins over Dublin and Kildare, Donnelly's vision and guile have further convinced manager Harte that his tenure at the fulcrum of his side should be extended.

"Mark has been playing consistently well and has been helping to bring out the best in others. You can't ask for much more than that and we are hoping that we can beat Kerry and then go into the league semi-finals which will afford us another game as we gear towards the Ulster Championship," says Harte.

lArmagh's push to stay in Division Two has been rocked by a one-match suspension for captain Ciaran McKeever.

The Armagh skipper was reported by referee Eddie Kinsella for interfering with free-taker Brian White towards the end of the defeat by Louth.

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