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Golf on hold for Tyrone minors' shot at glory

By john campbell

Golf has been at the core of Barry Hamill's sporting world for the greater part of his life.

The Dungannon man honed his skills alongside Darren Clarke on his home town course before going on to serve as club professional in several locations including the prestigious Grange club in Dublin.

But when his son Shea began to make waves in the sphere of gaelic football, Barry began to find himself immersed in a different sport.

And on Sunday, along with his wife Siobhan, he will be seated in the Hogan Stand at Croke Park in the hope of seeing Shea help Tyrone overcome Roscommon to reach the All-Ireland minor football final against Mayo.

It's a sporting transition that Barry has made quite seamlessly, according to Shea.

"Golf was the only topic in our house for a long while but now my parents are football mad," smiles the Donaghmore clubman.

"When we beat Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final there were a few tears shed and hardly had the final whistle sounded than they were at my side with hugs and kisses.

"I had witnessed the passion that Tyrone people have for their football from a distance, if you like, but now it's the all-consuming topic in our house," he explained.

"My dad is mustard keen and if anything my mum is even more passionate – she just loves to see us win."

Shea will form part of a Tyrone half-back line that will have a key role in countering a big, strong Roscommon half-forward line that has looked impressive to date.

"When we lost to Monaghan in the Ulster final we learned the lesson that a game is never over until the final whistle sounds," recalls Shea.

"We were eight points ahead at one stage but we ended up losing by two and that was a real sickening experience.

"So when we were drawn against Kerry in the last eight, we resolved that we would keep going until the very end."

It's just as well that Tyrone had steeled themselves for a protracted battle.

The match went to extra-time, the Red Hands having pirated a last-gasp point from Stephen McGrath in normal time that sustained their challenge after Christopher Morris and Ruairi McGlone each had incurred two yellow cards.

But they were able to play in extra-time and Tyrone's hard-earned victory has since provided the momentum for Sunday's game.

"It's great to be in an All-Ireland semi-final and we will try and provide a little bit of comfort for Tyrone fans who were naturally disappointed when the senior side lost to Mayo last Sunday," says Shea who is vice-captain of the Red Hands side.

"When you look at the way that Mayo beat Monaghan in the first minor semi-final, you just know that the bar has been raised considerably and that we face an enormous challenge."

Manager Mickey Donnelly is expected to confirm his line-up tomorrow night having already taken stock of Mayo's win over Monaghan.

Belfast Telegraph


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