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Title glory would help Tyrone young guns grow: Holmes

 

Final fling: Collie Holmes has his sights set on Ulster success
Final fling: Collie Holmes has his sights set on Ulster success
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Collie Holmes has seen and done it all in the senior jersey of his beloved Tyrone.

Five Ulster Championship and three All-Ireland medals bear testimony to a glittering career in the famous red and white jersey.

The Moy man brought the curtain down on his distinguished playing career in 2009 and since then he has worked quietly to help promote football at grassroots level.

But on Sunday he will step into the spotlight again in his role as manager of the Tyrone U17 side that will meet Monaghan in the Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship final at the Athletic Grounds, Armagh (4pm).

Most managers would view reaching a final as the ultimate goal - not the fiercely-driven Holmes, though.

Instead, he is already applying what he feels is a formula that will lead to the emergence of a future batch of Tyrone stars at senior level.

While victory over the Oriel County will be a prime target, the longer-term view that Holmes takes of his role is currently being enthusiastically endorsed by Tyrone GAA chiefs.

"I don't see the minor side as operating in a rather anonymous environment, a backwater if you like," pointed out Holmes. "We went to Clones as a team last Saturday to watch the Under-20s and the seniors both beat Cavan at their respective levels. We made a deliberate effort to train that morning and then travel together.

"I feel there are players within this minor squad who have the ability and the attitude to further their careers at senior level and I think it's important that they get a sense of what it's like to be at that level.

"When we are training at Garvaghey, we are on Pitch Three, the Under-20s are on Pitch Five and the senior squad is on Pitch Two and this lets the minors see they are very much part of the overall set-up. It's great for my boys to be rubbing shoulders with the senior players after training when they are having their food or whatever."

While Holmes is dedicated to plotting a successful future for Tyrone, he is particularly anxious to avoid a setback on Sunday.

"Monaghan have already handed us one lesson in the Championship and we don't want to suffer another," stated Holmes. "They are a good side, they will be well prepared and we will know what to expect. We tend to set high standards for ourselves in Tyrone irrespective of at what level we operate and the challenge for us will be to meet these standards."

Holmes is particularly keen to see his attack flourish against a Monaghan defence that is normally difficult to breach. Yet the manner in which players such as Daniel Fullerton, James Donaghy and Shea Daly have been grabbing their scores has given Holmes confidence that his side can come out on top.

"These players know that it is a privilege to represent Tyrone and they are very keen to produce their best form. They are focused on bringing their individual careers on and success would be a big stepping stone," said Holmes.

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