Tyrone manager Raymond Munroe has urged his players to show even greater accuracy when it comes to taking scoring chances in tomorrow’s All Ireland Minor quarter-final against beaten Munster finalists Kerry at Croke Park (12.00).
The Red Hands may have been convincing winners over Armagh in the recent Ulster final but Carrickmore man Munroe believes that his side will need to be even more emphatic this time out.
“Kerry showed in the Munster Championship that they are a decent side and we have to make our chances count.
“We maybe caught Armagh on a bad day — maybe our winning margin flattered us,” says Munroe.
Yet his side have been solidly consistent to date, their cohesion stemming from the midfield partnership of Conan Grugan and Harry Og Conlon.
Their ball-winning capacity will be crucial against the new Kerry central area pairing of James Walsh and Shaun Keane while Michael Donaghy and Conor Clarke will again be the mainstays of the Tyrone defence.
Already this summer Thomas Canavan, nephew of the legendary Peter, Ryan Devlin and Ronan O’Neill have been particularly effective in the Tyrone attack but manager Munroe will be seeking more from this trio and their colleagues up front tomorrow.
Kerry manager Pat O’Driscoll saw his side overcome Tipperary and then Waterford before they found Cork a bridge too far in the Munster Minor final.
And that defeat has triggered wholesale changes in his side.
Damien Horgan replaces Padraic McCarthy in goal, Andrew Thompson is introduced at corner-back and up front Marcus Mangan takes over from Thomas Hickey, Tadgh Morley is in for Gavin O’Grady, Michael Reen moves to full-forward and John Moynihan gets the vote over Barry O’Dwyer.
O’Driscoll’s drastic surgery sees the gauntlet thrown down to his players — and Tyrone boss Munroe recognises this.
“We are stepping up to the next level here — Kerry will be very fired up for this one,” says Munroe.
The Kerry defence, though, has looked vulnerable on occasions to date and this might just prove the team’s Achilles heel particularly if Canavan and O’Neill again unleash the finishing skills which have underpinned their gigantic contributions to Tyrone’s progress to date.
KERRY: D Horgan; F McNamara, D Culhane, A Thompson; C O'Leary, L Bastible; J Hickson; J Walsh (capt), S Keane; G O'Leary, M Mangan, T Morley; J Moynihan, M Reen, E O'Connor.