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Brennan can be Tyrone's secret weapon, says Donnelly

By Declan Bogue

The missing ingredient in the Tyrone attack could be the highly-promising Lee Brennan, maintains his Trillick clubmate, two-time All-Star Mattie Donnelly.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph last week, Red Hands manager Mickey Harte identified finishing as the one element that cost his team a place in the All-Ireland final, where he believes they could have hurt eventual champions Dublin.

Brennan has been named on Tyrone's McKenna Cup panel again, and is tipped to get more gametime this year. In 2016, he began the campaign by top-scoring with 0-6 in a routine win over Queen's University.

He edged his way onto the panel in 2015, in the same season as he won the Patsy Forbes trophy for being the leading scorer in the Tyrone Championship, finishing with a 2-27 tally as Trillick won their first senior title in 29 years helped by his impressive accuracy from the dead ball, an area that has hurt Tyrone.

"He's been in there two years now," explains Donnelly.

"The big thing that's held Lee back is his involvement with the U21s. He's been left to develop there and that's been happening at a critical stage of Tyrone's season, during the National League. It's hard to come back and force your way in between the League and Championship."

He adds: "That may have gone against him and obviously it's going to be an issue again for him next year with the U21s too. But I would carry wee Lee every day of the week in any team I go to because I've seen first-hand his free-taking and his temperament for free-taking.

"Not only that, not discarding his free kicks, he has that wee bit of magic up his sleeve. He can mix it up, he can come out and play-make, but he's a lethal finisher too from play. He's a threat from play, he's adding to that side of his game. He has all the attributes to be a very, very good asset for us - but at the same time he has serious competition there.

"I don't know when, but he will definitely come to prominence over the next year or two. He has that temperament, that class about him, he's just destined to do big things. Hopefully for himself and Tyrone that can be sooner rather than later - but it's not a question of 'if', it's just 'when'."

Donnelly maintains that the progression of Brennan is symptomatic of the talent and the dedication within the Trillick club.

Far from the modern game requiring slavish devotion, Donnelly states: "Football is really an avenue for spending time with each other. We've a great group who just like spending time with each other.

"Our way of hanging out is going to the pitch and kicking about or going to the gym. Subconsciously you're getting better as a team and a player.

"That group is tight and then younger fellas want to spend time with each other and with the older group, want to do what they're doing, and suddenly everything expands. You've a panel of players in working at their game."

Belfast Telegraph

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