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Tyrone will have to be at best to hang on to provincial title: Devlin

 

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Scoring ace: Darragh Canavan can inspire Tyrone

Scoring ace: Darragh Canavan can inspire Tyrone

Scoring ace: Darragh Canavan can inspire Tyrone

When Tyrone won the Ulster U20 football championship title last year, they had hoped it might prove a precursor to capturing All-Ireland honours.

But a fired-up Cork side deflated the Red Hands' ambitions in this respect yet not to the extent that they totally relinquished their desire to become the best side in the country at this level.

They find themselves back in the frame to pursue the ultimate honour now that they will meet Donegal in today's provincial decider at Clones (3.00).

Tyrone may have experienced relatively little difficulty in overcoming Derry by 4-13 to 1-10 in last year's final but Donegal are unlikely to surrender as meekly following their fine 1-11 to 0-12 semi-final victory over a Down side that was liberally sprinkled with talent.

Red Hands manager Paul Devlin can lean on the experience that several of his current side gained last year and this means that Darragh Canavan, Matthew Murnaghan, Tiarnan Quinn, Ethan Jordan and skipper Antoin Fox can spearhead their quest for back-to-back titles.

Lorcan Quinn and Neil Kilpatrick can also lend considerable support in what is certain to be a concerted bid to quell the pace and penetration of a Donegal side that invariably opts for an open, attacking strategy.

In Aaron Doherty, Richard O'Rourke, Conor McHugh, Peter McEniff and Rory O'Donnell, Donegal have players who can pose problems, particularly in defence, for the classy champions.

It was Doherty's late goal that helped to cement the semi-final win over Down and he could again have a key role today.

Tyrone boss Devlin accepts that his side have quite a battle on their hands.

"Donegal have already shown that they are a formidable team. We will need to be on our toes from the start if we want to stay as the Ulster champions," states Devlin.

Belfast Telegraph