Red Hands will have to 'Erne' their scores against Fermanagh insists Tyrone skipper Devlin
TYRONE captain Cormac Devlin led from the front as a potent attack picked apart Down's defence to rack up a big scoreline last week, but he doesn't expect Fermanagh to offer up any easy opportunities in Saturday's Ulster MFC semi-final.
Devlin sent over seven second half points in a convincing 3-16 to 0-9 Healy Park win, while the Erne lads carved out a 1-12 to 1-11 success over Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park.
“I know from school football that there's some brilliant footballers down in Fermanagh, in St Michael's Enniskillen,” he said.
“They're a big strong physical team, they like to play very defensive as well, but we'll just have to combat that, the same way as we did against Down.
“Obviously the roles will change around a bit for a few different players, but we'll be ready for them.”
Devlin, son of former Tyrone assistant manager Gavin, is one of six survivors from last season's team that fell at the semi-final stage to eventual All-Ireland champions Derry.
All six played their part, but the skipper was delighted with the displays of the newcomers to the squad.
“We're just letting the younger boys know that didn't get the experience that if you worked hard enough, you deserve to be there.
“If you didn't deserve to be there, you wouldn't be there. I felt the younger boys were brilliant. They didn't look nervous, they didn't look shaky on the ball at all, they were brilliant.
“Me and some of the boys had the experience of last year. The nerves all leave you after the first ten minutes.
“Whenever you get your hands on the ball, and the game settles down, the nerves all leave you and it's just down to business. Whatever you practice on the training ground comes into the pitch now.”
And he has total confidence in the depth of the Red Hand squad
“Our subs are brilliant. You could play an in-house match and you could play subs versus starters, and the subs could go out and beat the starters.
“That's how brilliant they are, and I'll back anybody who comes off the bench to come on and do exactly the same job as any of the starters have done, if not better.
“Any time we bring someone off the bench, we're just improving the starting line-up even more.”
The Ardboe lad is grateful for a second chance to reach an Ulster final, but he's taking nothing for granted.
“We're not getting ahead of ourselves at the minute, we're just trying to take it game by game.
“Fermanagh is a brilliant team, and I'm not looking ahead of them.”
“There were a few mistakes here and there, but we'll be looking back at it on video and we'll know how to rectify those mistakes.”
And while Tyrone will play a second successive game on home soil, their captain doesn't feel that Omagh provides a significant advantage.
“I love playing in Healy Park, it's a brilliant pitch, but it doesn't make a difference. Fermanagh will be up here and they'll be ready for us, they're a brilliant outfit.
“It's brilliant to have the fans there. At times you were thinking you weren't going to get fans, because of Covid.
“And whenever the game is so intense and you're so engrossed in it, you don't even notice they're there. It's just brilliant to have them there for the atmosphere.”