GAA Football

Dermot Carlin determined to help keep Tyrone's conveyor belt of talent rolling

Mark Bradley is now Tyrone's first choice forward, having starred in the 2015 All-Ireland U21-winning team. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

THE conveyor belt of talent coming through from underage level to the Tyrone senior panel since the turn of the Millennium has been remarkably consistent – and Dermot Carlin is determined to see that continue.

Tyrone lifted Sam Maguire three times during the Noughties with a side backboned largely by the 2000 and 2001 All-Ireland U21-winning teams.

And, after bringing the Clarke Cup back to the O’Neill County in 2015, another clutch of talented players likes of Mark Bradley, Padraig Hampsey, Kieran McGeary, Conor Meyler, Cathal McShane, Rory Brennan and Lee Brennan have progressed to Mickey Harte’s senior panel.

The challenge for Carlin, now part of the county’s U20 management team alongside Paul Devlin and Paddy McGuigan, is to try and bring through another crop to supplement what Harte already has.

“It has been a constant conveyor belt surely, but then if you look this year there’s not many lads on the U20s who are on the senior panel,” said the Killyclogher stalwart.

“There’s a wee gap there where we need to pick it up again maybe. There are lads who have the potential but it’s early days yet.

“With myself only being away from the seniors a few years, there’s a good link still there. I know a lot of the senior footballers and if there’s any way we can get those boys involved to help us out at different stages of our training, then that would be great.

“Maybe come in and have a few words, try and encourage them a bit more, whatever they can do.”

The U20 management team have been holding trials in recent weeks, and one of the key objectives is to ensure that as little talent as possible escapes their attention.

He added: “We’ve looked at a lot of lads - Paul knows most of them, but I suppose you’re wanting to see if there’s anybody like a Conor Gormley or Ryan McMenamin who could maybe slip through the net at this age group.

“You see fellas developing at different rates and different levels. Some stand out when they’re 16 where other guys, it might be 20. Everybody grows and develops at different stages.

“It’s just about making sure you run your eye over everybody again to see if there is anybody else out there.”

Carlin has had a frustrating time with injury in recent years and still hopes to return to playing later this year.

For now though, he is only too happy to take his first steps on the coaching ladder.

“Garvaghey is only 15 minutes away from me and any wee way I can help, I’m delighted to do it because that’s something I want to do anyway.

“Even last year with the club I found myself doing a wee bit more on the sideline and maybe helping out with different fellas.

“I’ve been playing football every year since I can remember so it would be hard not to stay involved in some way or form.”

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GAA Football