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Fox ready to lead from the front as Tyrone's young guns aim to retain place at the top

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Antoin Fox

Antoin Fox

�INPHO/Presseye/Lorcan Doherty

Antoin Fox

Tyrone captain Antoin Fox may have experienced bitter-sweet emotions when his side booked their passage into Saturday's Ulster Under-20 Football Championship Final by beating Antrim at the weekend, but this has certainly not diminished his enthusiasm ahead of Saturday's decider against Donegal at St Tiernach's Park, Clones (3pm).

Fox's world temporarily caved in when he was served with a black card during the game, but after his 10 minutes in the sin-bin he returned to the action to hoist over one of the late points that assured the Red Hands of what was a hard-earned 0-11 to 0-9 victory over a courageous Saffrons outfit.

Now Fox is determined to lead Tyrone to the Ulster title against a Donegal side that was stretched to the limit in their semi-final against Down before coming out on top by 1-11 to 0-12.

"Obviously it's great to be in this final at such an early stage of the year, but the important thing now is that we go on and win it," says Fox. "Thee standard overall is high and we are aware that we will be facing very difficult opponents. There are players on both sides who have some senior experience and this will add to the overall quality that will be on show.

"Tyrone boast a good record at under-age level and we want to play our part in maintaining this if we can."

With Darragh Canavan and Matthew Murnaghan leading from the front, the Red Hands intend to adhere to the expansive game which has served them well to date.

They have already shown they are a well-drilled, cohesive side that is capable of turning defence into attack quickly and converting their scoring chances.

The Red Hands can look to the experience of a number of players who were part of last year's provincial title winning side.

Lorcan Quinn and Conor Quinn are solid in defence, while Neil Kilpatrick has already been evoking favourable comment following his baptism at senior level in the demanding area of midfield.

Joe Oguz is a dynamic figure in the centre of the park, where his work-rate and tenacity invariably stand him in good stead, while Tiarnan Quinn is a quality player who certainly made his presence felt in the semi-final over Antrim.

Ethan Jordan is another forward with a sharp eye for scores, as is Liam Gray.

But the holders will need to maximise their possession if they are to move ahead of their opponents.

Tyrone simply cannot afford to spurn chances as Donegal are more than capable of punishing them.

Donegal, indeed, have impressed at under-age level, with several players having come through the ranks to impress at senior level.

In overcoming Down at the semi-final stage, Donegal showed commitment and courage. Aaron Doherty's 57th minute goal proved crucial in taking them over the line after down had stayed on their shoulder throughout the game.

Donegal now have their sights fixed on the provincial title and in Richard O'Rourke, Conor McHugh, Peter McEniff and Rory O'Donnell they have players who can help to take them to this particular goal.

Having won the last two Ulster Senior Football Championship titles, the thirst for more success within the north-west county has been intensified and their Under-20 side could conceivably deliver in this connection.

Belfast Telegraph