Tyrone senior manager Mickey Harte has urged all Ulster followers to get behind the Red Hands Minors’ bid to reach the All Ireland final when they meet Mayo at Croke Park tomorrow (1.30pm).
Harte, whose own side’s title ambitions were scuppered by Dublin at the quarter-final stage, believes Raymond Munroe’s team is well capable of confirming that the future of Tyrone football is in extremely good hands.
“These lads have performed very well to date and I have no doubt that they are well capable of reaching the final,” says Harte.
“The manner in which they won the Ulster title is very encouraging and then their semi-final win over Kerry was a superb result that has further increased confidence for tomorrow’s tie.
“This side shows a great attitude and they certainly won’t be fazed by their semi-final task,” insists Harte, a number of whose seniors graduated via this route.
Munroe last night revealed that Tyrone will attempt to make maximum use of the wide open spaces of Croke Park.
“We have got to get the ball into space in order to make things hard for the Mayo defence,” points out Munroe.
“We have a bit of cohesion going in our side at the moment.”
But ‘a bit of cohesion’ hardly does justice to the authority that the young Red Hands wielded over Armagh in the Ulster decider and then over fancied Kerry.
Ronan O’Neill, Thomas Canavan and Stefan Tierney will carry a big threat up front in an unchanged Tyrone side while Conor Clarke will have a key role in a defence that has yielded relatively little to date.
Mayo, too, remain unchanged with manager Tony Duffy keeping faith with the line-up that struggled to overcome the lively challenge of Offaly at the quarter-final stage.
Duffy has made it clear, though, that he will be expecting big things from his midfield while skipper Cillian O’Connor will be tasked with providing inspirational leadership for what he describes as “a very big test for us.”
The momentum that Tyrone have built up of late should be enough to enable them to make it into the final.
TYRONE: M McReynolds; S McGarrity, C Clarke, H P McGeary; N Sludden, M Donaghy, E Deeney; H Og Conlon, C Grugan; R Donnelly, T Canavan, R Devlin; S Tierney, J McCullagh, R O’Neill.
MAYO: P Mannion; B Harrison, N Freeman, C Twomey; R Quirke, C Walsh, C Horan; D Kirby, S McGarry; F Durkan, M Forde, S Kelly; J McDonnell, D Coen, C O'Connor.