When Tyrone won the Ulster Under-20 football championship early last year, they little dreamt that they would not be in action again until they met Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final in December.
Defeat in that game was a bitter disappointment but tonight manager Paul Devlin is hoping his side, skippered by Cormac Quinn, can take a big step towards retaining their provincial crown when they meet Donegal in the quarter-finals at O’Neill’s Healy Park, Omagh.
Donegal, buoyed by Eoin Dowling, Paul McGettigan, Ryan McFadden and Johnny McGroddy, will be boosted by their preliminary round win over Armagh last Friday.
In tonight’s other quarter-finals, Down face a tricky mission against Cavan, Fermanagh host Antrim and Derry will take on Monaghan.
Down manager Conor Laverty can look to Sheelin Johnston, Danny Magill, Odhran Murdock, Charlie Smith and Patrick Brooks to bolster his side against Damien Donohue’s Cavan outfit.
And Fermanagh manager Maurice McLaughlin will lean on players such as Ronan McHugh, Justin McDaid, John Horan, Conor Courtney and Dermot King to fire up his team against Hugh McGettigan’s Antrim outfit.
Derry manager Paddy Bradley, meanwhile, is bracing himself for a tough test against a Monaghan side that includes a battery of talented players.