GAA Football

Tyrone U21 heroes set to step up to big time - Canavan

Peter Canavan believes many of Tyrone's All-Ireland winning U21 panel are ready for the senior stage
Francis Mooney

MANY of Tyrone's U21 heroes are ready to step up to senior level, according to Peter Canavan.

Players from all of the Red Hands' previous four All-Ireland U21 winning teams have gone on to taste Sam Maguire Cup glory. And the six-time Allstar, a winning captain at both levels, is hoping history can repeat itself. Three members of this season's triumphant team – Cathal McShane, Rory Brennan and Mark Bradley – are already established members of Mickey Harte's squad and Canavan, a member of the U21 backroom team, expects others to follow.

“I have no doubt that Mickey will be looking at it and I'd imagine he will be bringing a few boys in,” he said.

“The thing is, there's such a short time between now and the Donegal game, but even from an experience point of view and to be part of a senior panel, it would certainly be a bonus for some of these boys and I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them were brought in.”

But the Errigal Ciarán man warned the transition from underage to senior level is a big step.

“There's a big step-up, to begin with, from U21 to senior and we'll have to let these boys know that - that it's not taken for granted that you move straight onto the senior team and that you win it at senior level," Canavan added.

“Things don't work out that way, but look, it's great that we have players who we know are as good as anybody else in the country and that they are capable as a unit and as a county of winning All-Ireland titles. So that can only be good for the future.”

Canavan dismissed claims Tyrone adopted a cynical approach in last Saturday's All-Ireland final against Tipperary, insisting their triumph was a result of honest endeavour and courage.

“In the second half, it was about guts and determination," he said.

"We played great football the first 10 or 12 minutes of the second half and, after 12 minutes, Tipperary were still winning the game by two points with a strong breeze. So it probably didn't look good for us at that stage and we came back again and again; we showed great character to hang on at the very finish.

“While we played a lot of skilful football throughout the year, I think this victory was born out of guts and determination. So many teams that I was on before, our midfield was written off when we were up against more physically imposing teams and given no chance.

“But we responded and that's the way it was because we had to dig really deep. Tipperary have some outstanding footballers, so for our boys to counteract that and to play into that breeze in the second half and get the scores they did, I can only but admire them.”

Two points down at half-time after playing with the wind advantage, the Red Hands faced a crisis, but they were able to benefit from the extended interval, the resumption delayed due to a medical emergency in the Parnell Park stand.

“The extended break at half-time probably didn't do us any harm. It gave us more time to refocus and we talked about where we were going wrong and we looked at areas where we could improve,” Canavan said.

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