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All Ireland Minor Football Championship: I feared we had blown it, admits Tyrone's Ronan O’Neill

By Micheal McGeary

Tyrone corner forward Ronan O’Neill now has his sights firmly fixed on next month’s All Ireland minor football decider.

He conjured up a brilliant first half goal in Sunday’s dramatic semi final win over Mayo.

But eight unanswered points from the Connacht champions either side of the break left the favourites staring defeat in the face.

It was then the Ulster champions mounted that pulsating comeback and O’Neill admitted afterwards that he thought that it was gone from their grasp.

“To be honest I thought that we were beaten,” said Ronan.

“I remember looking at the clock when we were seven points down and thinking that it was going to take a miracle to get out of the situation that we were in.

“But then the boys dug in and the lads that came on like Dara Donnelly and Liam Girvan helped change the game for us.

“We were playing well at one stage in the first half when we went 1-3 to 0-3 in front.

“But we lost our way for the next 20 minutes and Mayo showed how good a side they are by kicking seven points without reply.”

O’Neill concedes that half time couldn’t have come quick enough for Tyrone as in the second quarter Mayo were the dominant force

“It gave us a chance to regroup and refocus again. It’s the best feeling in the world to come back from a deficit like that and go through to an All Ireland minor final.”

A Richard Donnelly goal sparked the comeback with substitute Dara Donnelly getting another five minutes later.

Ronan agrees that it took those two strikes to get them back on track and he’s confident they can now go all the way next month.

“Dara and Richard’s finishes were brilliant and they came at just the right time,” said O’Neill.

“There was no way we were going to claw our way back by taking points alone.

“It demonstrates how good a side we are and how much we’ve improved in the last few months.

“Now we must finish the job in the final, but this time it’s imperative we play flat out for 60 minutes.”

Galway or Cork who play on Sunday will provide the opposition in next month’s final.

Belfast Telegraph


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