Sport

Tyrone U20 trio to join up with Red Hands' senior squad

Michael McGleenan is one of three All-Ireland U20 winners who have been called into the Tyrone senior panel 
Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
FRANCIS MOONEY

THREE members of Tyrone’s All-Ireland winning U20 team have been called up to the senior squad by manager Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher.

Team captain Niall Devlin, midfielder Michael McGleenan and centre-back Steve Donaghy have joined the Red Hand set-up as they prepare for a crunch All-Ireland SFC Qualifier tie against derby rivals Armagh on Sunday week.

Attacking ace Ruairi Canavan, recently named Eirgrid U20 Player of the Year, is a surprise omission from the list of recruits.

But with another year remaining at U20 level, it’s believed the decision was made not to rush the youngster through to senior level.

Speculation also surrounded Conor Cush, but he too will play at U20 level again when the Red Hands defend their title in 2023.

Tyrone U20 manager Paul Devlin welcomed the call-ups as an important stage in the development and transition of young players to Senior inter-county level.

“That’s the whole goal for all the lads, that’s what we bring them through for,” he said.

“It’s brilliant to take silverware along the way, brilliant for the lads to get an Ulster medal and an All-Ireland medal, but it’s about getting them to that level.

“And if Brian and Feargal feel that they’re capable of fitting in to their set-up, that’s brilliant, and it’s nice to see them doing that.”

Devlin said he has total confidence that all three players who have been promoted are capable of shining at senior level.

“Niall Devlin is more than capable of stepping up. He was carrying a hamstring injury last year, and the lad just wasn’t right.

“For his own good, we made the decision to let Niall go back to the club.

“The lad was gutted, but it was a good decision for him, he finished up as Player of the Year with Coalisland, he had a super run with the club, and it stood to him.”

Suspension rules AllStar midfielder Brian Kennedy out of the meeting with Armagh at the Athletic Grounds, leaving a void that could offer an opportunity to McGleenan.

The Eglish man’s strength and physique were major assets to Tyrone during this year’s run to the Ulster and All-Ireland U20 titles.

“He is mature physically, but at the back of it all, he’s still a 19, 20-year old, and he has a lot of maturing to do,” said Devlin.

“He’s a super lad, he’s more than capable of stepping up and pushing on to the next level.”

Centre back Donaghy was one of Tyrone’s most consistent players in this year’s series, a rock of the defence in every game.

“What a lad, the anchor of our defence, and you just know by the way he came out with the ball he was taking on that responsibility.

“He plays that number six role perfectly, a real leader of the team, and a top class player.”

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