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Tyrone GAA set to appoint former Ulster Rugby coach


Popular man: Strength and conditioning coach Jonny Davis works with former Ulster ace Mark McCrea during his time with the rugby club
Popular man: Strength and conditioning coach Jonny Davis works with former Ulster ace Mark McCrea during his time with the rugby club
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Tyrone GAA are poised to name former Ulster Rugby strength and conditioning coach Jonny Davis as part of their management team in the coming weeks.

Davis will take over from Peter Donnelly who, by way of coincidence, left the Red Hands to take up a role with Ulster Rugby's Academy.

Donnelly was understood to be keen to stay on with the Tyrone senior team on a part-time basis, but this was not facilitated.

Instead, he will now hook up with Seamus McEnaney in 2020 as part of a new-look Monaghan management team, something that will cause considerable anguish among the Tyrone squad who had formed close ties with Donnelly since he started working with them in 2015.

Tyrone have been rocked by a couple of managerial departures since their defeat to Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final, with 2005 Footballer of the Year Stephen O'Neill joining Donnelly through the exit door having worked as an attacking coach for the last season.

Davis has already met with Tyrone representatives, including a group of players a number of times, and has visited their facilities as he gears up to join Mickey Harte's side.

Much like Donnelly, the reputation Davis carries is one of an intense individual, and he is hugely popular with players.

He was a promising player with Ulster, with serious pace, until injuries derailed him. He parted ways with the Ulster Rugby set-up in June 2018.

If he needs any guidance on the nuances of Gaelic football, he will not have to look far as his sister Julie has been involved since 2002 when she came in to help out with the Armagh team that went on to win the All-Ireland that year.

She also worked with the Cavan footballers for a spell, was with Kildare for a lengthy period from 2008 and is currently the High-Performance Manager with Armagh GAA.

Talking about the need to have such expertise in place in the wake of Dublin's fifth consecutive Sam Maguire title last Saturday, Sky pundit and former Tyrone All-Ireland-winning captain Peter Canavan stated: "I think the Dublin set-up is to be admired and the way they do their business is to be admired.

"But the players who play for Dublin have the opportunity to give their best, to be the best that they can be.

"And if other counties are going to catch up, then they need to provide the same assistance in so many ways off the field of play."

He then turned his attention to Tyrone, with many dismayed at the departure of Donnelly.

"In my own county, I believe that's not happening. There's so much more we can do and we have to do. The example of Bryan Cullen, who Jim Gavin wanted - he left Leinster Rugby, a very good, professional set-up, to go to Dublin.

"We have an excellent strength and conditioning man who has left Tyrone GAA, a place where he wanted to be, to go to Ulster Rugby.

"In so many ways I believe Dublin are of an amateur ethos, but professional in practice. Maybe my own county at times, and others, are amateur in ethos and amateur in practice.

"Until we close that gap, we could be looking at seven, eight, nine in a row.

"I think other counties will need to look at things. The game has moved on. Whether you like it or not, it has moved on."

Meanwhile, Armagh are set to reveal that their former captain Jarlath Burns will be putting his name forward to succeed John Horan as GAA president.

Burns, the principal at St Paul's High School in Bessbrook, has long been touted as a candidate for the role and the decision will be made by GAA Congress in Cork in early 2020.

With his local club in Silverbridge he has fulfilled most of the administration roles, such as secretary and chairman, and has significant experience as an under-age coach. He served as an Armagh delegate to Central Council from 2010 to 2015.

For the 125th anniversary of the GAA in 2009, Burns served in the committee and has also been chairman of the Standing Committee on Playing Rules that made a few changes to the game.

Belfast Telegraph


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