GAA Football

Antoin Fox never doubted the game plan: Patience, discipline and a shared trust pays off for Tyrone

The Tyrone squad celebrate after clinching the Ulster Under 20 Football Championship title on Sunday July 14 2019 at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh. Picture by Philip Walsh

Tyrone centre-back Antoin Fox never doubted that the game plan would work, even when Derry raced into a four-point lead with an early goal in the Ulster Under 20 Football Championship final.

Patience, discipline and a shared trust in the system would combine to bring the project together, and how right he was.

The Red Hands exploded into spectacular action, rocking the defending champions with four goals as they roared to a 4-13 to 1-10 triumph at the Athletic Grounds.

“It took us a while, we knew what we wanted to do. We wanted to suck them in and we wanted to get the runners through the centre and down the wings,” said Fox.

“It took maybe 10 or 15 minutes to get that going, but you saw what happened when we did, there were four or five goals, and we could have tipped on another few there towards the end, but we'll take it.

“They probably haven't really been pushed before, apart from the Fermanagh game, but we gave it our all and came out the winners.

“You saw there, we were four points down at the start, and we could either take it or leave it at that stage. But we dug deep, and we started to come back.”

The Loughmacrory lad is surrounded by accomplished defenders, but the team has a bit of everything, from the midfield drive of skipper Ruairi Gormley to the genius of Darragh Canavan to the finishing power of Sean Og McAleer.

And there's a wealth of talent waiting in the wings to illustrate strength in depth and push for inclusion in the starting fifteen.

“We have 24 players, you saw the subs coming on, every player is capable of starting, and that's what you want, everyone pushing each other, it's only good for team morale.

“Michael Conroy came in there and got a couple of points, might even have got a goal, and that's all good team strength.”

Tyrone await the winners of the Munster final between Kerry and Cork, to be screened live from Pairc Ui Rinn on Thursday evening, in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The Kingdom go in as favourites for the provincial crown, with an exceptionally talented group of exciting players, and Fox expects to be facing up to their lethal attacking unit on Saturday week.

“It's most likely going to be Kerry, you see the headlines Kerry are making, they're winning everything.

“But we'll not shy away from it. that's where you want to be, you want to be playing the best, and hopefully now in two weeks time we'll out and put in a good effort again.”

For now, he's happy to be where he is, and to have erased some hurtful memories of his previous appearance at the Athletic Grounds.

“The last time I played here was in a MacRory Cup final, and that didn't turn out too well, but I made up for it and we got the cup at the end of it.”

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