Donnelly tipping his boys to go extra mile
His team may have been thwarted in their bid to win the recent Ulster Minor League crown by Donegal but Tyrone manager Mickey Donnelly feels they can benefit from their experience when they go into action against Down in the Ulster Championship tomorrow.
Donnelly had nothing but fulsome praise for his players when they lost both the Ulster and All-Ireland finals last year, suggesting that those members of his squad who would be available again this year could play a key role in bringing the side the extra mile.
That's the challenge that is now confronting the Red Hands youngsters as they prepare to shed their 'nearly men' image.
In the aftermath of last year's All-Ireland defeat to Mayo Donnelly declared: "I could not ask for a better bunch of young men to work with and I feel they will come back stronger this year."
They may not have fully justified their manager's vote of faith yet but tomorrow they are presented with an opportunity to take the first step along the championship route.
Donnelly will look to players like Ronan Nugent, David Mulgrew, Lee Brennan and Conor McKenna to fire up his side against a Down outfit that has grown under manager Shane Mulholland.
While the force would appear to be with Tyrone, the fact that they will be at home and their obvious desire to earn silverware, nevertheless Down have no intention of living up to their underdogs role.
"We know we are cast in this role but that will not impact on our morale in any way. We are going to Omagh with one aim in mind and that is to win," insists manager Mulholland.
Ryan Treanor could help unlock the defence given his all-round ability while Niall Rafferty, C J Barr and Pearse Og McCrickard are other key players in the side.