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Tyrone fitness guru making switch to Ulster

 

Strong man: Tyrone GAA strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly is set to join the Ulster Rugby Academy staff
Strong man: Tyrone GAA strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly is set to join the Ulster Rugby Academy staff
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Highly respected Tyrone GAA strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly will leave the county to take up a role with the Ulster Rugby Academy during this summer, the Belfast Telegraph understands.

An All-Ireland winner with Mickey Harte's side in 2005 and 2008, having also picked up minor and under-21 medals, the Coalisland man has forged a formidable coaching reputation since the end of his inter-county days.

Starting out with Cavan as a GAA development officer, he was seen as a key part of the string of under-21 titles won by the Breffni county, with many of those players going on to feature for the senior side on their run to this year's Ulster final.

A return home always seemed a near certainty, however, and he was back at Tyrone by September 2014, six years after the second of his two All-Irelands.

At a relatively low-ebb by their own standards when he returned to Garvaghey, Donnelly's involvement with teams from senior right down to underage has reaped rewards, most notably with a trip to Croke Park on All-Ireland final day last season where the side were beaten by all-conquering Dublin.

In a recent interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Donnelly's former Tyrone team-mate Ciaran McBride sung the praises of the impressive coach, citing his influence on the current panels of both the Red Hands and Cavan.

"It was no surprise to me that someone in Cavan had the foresight to entice Peter Donnelly there," he said.

"The foundations which he set up there are now coming to fruition - the initial benefits came in the shape of those Under-21 titles, but Cavan are now a force in the senior sphere.

"Peter certainly knows his stuff and Tyrone are currently the beneficiaries of that.

"Whether it be in Cavan or Tyrone, he is usually seen at the top of the pyramid, whereas in reality he is beavering away at the lower end working diligently with the players of tomorrow.

"His pioneering initiatives are continuing to reap rich dividends."

The hope will naturally be that such a skillset will see him ideally placed to work with the province's rugby stars of tomorrow.

Ulster's S&C department has recently underwent an almost top to bottom overhaul with long-time coach Jonny Davis departing 12 months ago and Kevin Geary departing for Bristol Bears this summer.

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