Tyrone manager Raymond Munroe has made it clear that his side are determined to deny Mayo a place in the All Ireland minor football final for the third year in succession.
Munroe’s boys will meet the westerners at Croke Park on Sunday (1.30) fired by a desire to add the All Ireland crown to the Ulster title they have already won, but conscious that Mayo have a fine record at minor level spanning recent years.
“Mayo are still feeling the hurt from losing last year’s final against Armagh so this will make them very dangerous opponents. We have to be on our guard — they have boys who have experience of playing in Croke Park and they will be very keen to go the full distance this year in view of the setbacks they have suffered,” maintains Munroe.
Tyrone were very impressive in beating reigning All Ireland champions Armagh in the Ulster final before going on to overcome Kerry in the All Ireland quarter-final but Munroe is keen to ensure that not too much emphasis is placed on these displays in the context of Sunday’s shootout.
“When a side reaches this stage of an All Ireland competition, it’s all about the performance on the day. There is no second chance, it is do or die. I think the players have applied themselves very well and I am sure that they will respond well on Sunday but we must keep a sense of perspective,” insists former Tyrone senior star Munroe.
His team contains some of the most exciting young players to have graced the minor arena in Ulster for years. Peter Canavan’s nephew Thomas pulls the strings in an attack that also includes a proven scorer in Ronan O’Neill and a lightning-fast wing-forward in Ryan Devlin.
Conan Grugan and Harry Og Conlon are again expected to form the Red Hands midfield while Michael Donaghy and Conor Clarke are the twin pillars of a defence that has been conceding relatively little of late.
If Tyrone get a sufficient supply of the ball at midfield, they can provide the ammunition for an attack that has displayed consistent accuracy to date although Munroe points out that Mayo will carry certain physical advantages into the game.
“They appear to be a big strong side and they will be very determined. I think that we are capable of improving on our recent performances all the same,” says Munroe.
Tyrone of course beat Mayo in the 2008 All Ireland minor final but Munroe stresses that this bears no relation whatsoever to Sunday’s contest.
“That’s all history now, what matters is this next tie. We must be very careful not to be left chasing the game, we need to get off to a good start and to keep our noses in front,” he said.