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Donnelly has us fired up for title drive: McGrogan


Big goal: Oisin McWilliams (left) and Padraig McGrogan
Big goal: Oisin McWilliams (left) and Padraig McGrogan
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Derry Under-20 football captain Padraig McGrogan believes his team are deriving their enthusiasm and momentum from what might be interpreted as an unexpected source for Sunday's Ulster Championship final against Tyrone.

Oak Leaf manager and Aghaloo club dynamo Mickey Donnelly is Tyrone through and through, but this certainly does not impinge on his determination to see his Oak Leaf side retain their provincial title.

"Mickey is totally committed to trying to ensure that we retain the Ulster Under-20 title and we as players are all right behind him on this," insists Newbridge clubman McGrogan.

"He has serious enthusiasm and he has a great way with the players. The upshot is that everyone just wants to play for him."

In their journey into the decider, Derry survived scares against Armagh and Fermanagh, but McGogan believes his team will be the better for this.

"It was important that we faced challenges because this has helped to keep us on our toes," maintains the Derry skipper. "We will be trying our best to get the match-ups right and to maintain our shape during the game.

"We found ourselves trailing by ten points against Armagh, but we recovered to win, and then when Fermanagh made things very difficult for us in last Friday night's semi-final we had to work very hard in the end for our win."

Donnelly himself believes that his team has matured as the competition has unfolded.

"When you look at our game against Fermanagh, you will see that they hit the post in the last minute. It was a match that really went down to the wire but, having said that, we are now looking forward to this Ulster final," states Donnelly.

The Derry manager is of the opinion that the Under-20 Championship has showcased the depth of playing talent that there is currently within Ulster.

"When you look at the bigger picture in Ulster, you will see success at schools, club and inter-county level that shows Gaelic football in an encouraging light," asserts Donnelly.

"I honestly think that under-age football in Ulster is phenomenally strong at the present time.

"A lot of these Derry boys eat, live, sleep and breathe football so they know what is expected from them in a match of this nature."

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