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Legend Peter Canavan is backing Tyrone to sparkle

By John Campbell

Published 05/05/2015

Eirgrid GAA Football All Ireland Under 21 Championship Final, Parnell Park, Dublin 2/5/2015
Tipperary vs Tyrone
Tyrone captain Kieran McGeary lifts the cup
Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Eirgrid GAA Football All Ireland Under 21 Championship Final, Parnell Park, Dublin 2/5/2015 Tipperary vs Tyrone Tyrone captain Kieran McGeary lifts the cup Mandatory Credit ?INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Tyrone legend Peter Canavan believes that the county's achievement in winning the All-Ireland Under-21 football title will prove the perfect incentive for their senior side to get the better of Donegal in the Ulster Championship preliminary round tie on Sunday week.

The straight-talking Canavan is not only convinced that the U21 players' success will stand them in good stead in future years but will now provide additional impetus for a full-blooded assault on the provincial crown.

Canavan, who has wielded considerable influence as part of Feargal Logan's U21 management team, reveals, too, that many of the current senior squad have the bit more firmly between their teeth having attended Saturday's victory over Tipperary at Parnell Park, Dublin.

"I was speaking to a number of the senior players out on the pitch afterwards and I have no doubt that this Under-21 win will serve as a fillip to them," says Canavan.

"It will certainly give them a bit of encouragement going into this huge game against Donegal in Ballybofey - a match for which they are being written off by everyone with the suggestion that they have no chance of winning."

The characteristics displayed by the U21 side are reminiscent of the qualities which were manifest in the all-conquering Tyrone teams of 2003, '05 and '08 when the Red Hands reigned supreme at senior All-Ireland level and Canavan takes considerable satisfaction from this.

"A lot of these U21 lads are good enough footballers. A number of them have experienced All-Ireland success at schools level," states Canavan.

"We were confident that the talent was there. It was just about getting a sense of togetherness and getting the players to gel as a unit. And as was witnessed, they were prepared to dig deep.

"For any team that is going to win an All-Ireland, you're going to have to display heart and guts and determination and our boys weren't going to be found wanting."

Canavan, though, takes grave exception to the accusations of cynicism laid at the door of the Tyrone U21s by the Tipp management.

Tyrone boss Logan found himself persona non grata when he attempted to enter the Tipperary dressing room after the game to offer his commiserations in the time-honoured tradition within the GAA.

"I would be very hurt with any charges relating to cynicism because if you ask any of the players if they have been coached in cynical play this year, they will give you a very honest answer," insists Canavan.

"So I would be very disappointed if that was labelled at this team because that's not what they're coached. If there was cynical play, it was towards the end of the game when the team was hanging on to a slender lead and it was instinct that may have taken over in some cases.

"But I'll make it clear and I'm sure Feargal did, I have trained the team and there has been no cynical play involved in our training sessions and the players will back that up.

"I'm not aware who made that statement in relation to cynical play but when they look back and reflect on it, they will say that's not the case. We didn't get to an All-Ireland final by playing cynical football."

And on the prospect of Logan perhaps one day filling Mickey Harte's shoes, Canavan is equally forthright.

"We're not thinking any further ahead. The man that Tyrone have there at the minute, I don't think there's anybody who would question his credentials," he asserts.

"He is the best man for the job. And he'll remain there as long as he wants to be there. I think the players are very happy with that and I'm very happy with that."

Belfast Telegraph

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