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No Kerry joke as Red Hands aim to break stranglehold on title

 

Scoring ace: Mark Devlin can plot success for Tyrone
Scoring ace: Mark Devlin can plot success for Tyrone
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Tyrone and Monaghan will bid to reach the semi-finals of the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship when they face Kerry and Cork respectively in tomorrow's quarter-finals at O'Connor Park, Tullamore.

The Red Hands will certainly be up against it in the first match (2pm) against a Kerry side that won four All-Ireland minor titles on the trot (2014-2017) before adding the inaugural Under-17 crown last year when they beat Galway in the final (0-21 to 1-14).

Tyrone manager Collie Holmes is particularly keen to see his side step up to the mark in this game as they lost to Monaghan in the recent Ulster final and have slipped into the All-Ireland series through the back door.

Kerry boss Joe Costello has watched his side blossom this year with players such as Jack O'Connor, Dylan Geaney and Kevin Goulding very much to the fore in attack, while Alan Dineen, Adam Curran and Sean O'Brien underpin a solid defence.

Costello's counterpart Holmes is hopeful that his attack can fire on all cylinders and, in this respect, he feels that players such as Mark Devlin, Daniel Fullerton and Luke Donnelly can give a lead.

"We are fully aware of Kerry's record and our aim will be to try and make a good start and take things from there," states Holmes.

"You could not ask for more commitment from this group of Tyrone players. They have been working hard for many months now and I hope that they can make it into the All-Ireland semi-finals.

"We know that we are going to face tougher opposition but that is what you expect. We have to take this in our stride and show that we will not let the demands of the occasion get to us. It's a great chance for us to show that the future is bright for Tyrone football and I think the boys want to make the most of this."

Meanwhile, Monaghan manager Mark Counihan accepts that his side will find the going tough against Cork in the second semi-final at Tullamore (6pm).

The Farney outfit were fully extended by Tyrone before coming out on top by 1-13 to 1-11 in the Ulster decider, although they shot seventeen wides in the process.

Yet in Jason Irwin, Darragh Dempsey, Liam McDonald and Michael Hamill they possess players who have been accurate for the most part this year and they will certainly be required to bring their shooting boots along with them tomorrow.

"Our shooting is the one area in which we have to show an improvement and it is essential that we take our chances, otherwise Cork have the capacity to punish us. They have racked up some big scores to date," says Counihan.

"When you get to this stage you like to think you can move on into the semi-finals, but there are a lot of decent sides still in there and we know that we will have our work cut out for us."

Monaghan captain Karl Gallagher, who was outstanding in the Ulster final win over Tyrone, believes that the team has grown in self-confidence as the Championship season has progressed.

It was Gallagher's aerial authority in the provincial decider that had much to do with his team's win but he prefers to deflect credit to the side as a whole.

"There is a tremendous spirit within this side," insists Gallagher. "Everyone knows his role. We knew going into the Championship that Tyrone would be one of the danger teams as far as we were concerned and that's the way things turned out. Now that we are in the All-Ireland quarter-final we want to do ourselves justice.

"We would like to give Monaghan supporters a lift at this point in time if we can at all."

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