GAA Football

Tyrone U20 boss praises players despite loss to Cork

Tyrone assemble before the EirGrid GAA Football All-Ireland U20 Championship semi-final against Cork at Bord Na Mona O Connor Park in Tullamore. Pic Philip Walsh
Andy Watters

TYRONE U20 manager Paul Devlin saluted the commitment of his players in the aftermath of Sunday’s bitterly disappointing All-Ireland semi-final loss to Cork in Tullamore.

The well-drilled Red Hands recovered from falling four points behind to establish a seven-point lead early in the second half but Munster champions Cork overhauled them and kicked for the line after the sending off of Errigal Ciaran midfielder Joe Oguz 15 minutes from time.

Devlin explained how the entire Tyrone squad had committed fully to the training and games programme he had set out in pre-season and he now expects several of his players to take the step up to senior level.

“By God, these lads put in some commitment this year,” said Devlin.

“It has been immense the work they put in, they’ve done everything that was asked of them.

“In January we put a programme in front of them for the whole year, right through to next week (the All-Ireland final).

“We put a schedule of all the training, all the games we were going to be playing in the league and the championship.

“They came up short (of completing the schedule) by a couple of calls and a couple of points at the end of this game. They have couple of bits of silverware in the cabinet and that’s great but the next thing is to see how many can push on and the great thing is that we have a lot of super footballers in Tyrone.

“We are blessed in Tyrone to have some great players at senior level but the last thing they need is for nobody to be coming through to push them on. It’s not for me to say who should go through and who shouldn’t. That’s up to the guys at senior level and the encouragement we have had from the senior level has been immense this year because it’s all about bringing these lads forward.”

The talented Tyrone youngsters will have benefitted from a campaign that saw them dethrone Derry and win the Ulster Championship. Devlin expects the players to return to their club sides as “real leaders”.

“They’ve had a wonderful year,” he said.

“They’ll go back to their clubs and I’m sure everybody will agree that they’ll go back better and stronger players, they’ll go back as real leaders around their clubs.

“We have to remember the lads that didn’t play (against Cork) and the work they have put in, the lads from 17-18, right through to 32. The effort they put in this year has been unbelievable.”

Goalscorer Darragh Canavan, James Garrity and Oguz are among the starters last Sunday who’ll be eligible for the U20 grade again next year. Assistant-manager Dermot Carlin explained that equipping players for senior level was the primary aim of the management team.

“Our aims this year were, yes, to win silverware but Paul’s main aim for this year and last year was to produce footballers who are able to step up to the plate (at senior level),” he said.

“Now there has been lots of good work done with their clubs obviously and in the underage structures but hopefully we have helped them by giving them a bit more knowledge so they are able to take the next step.”

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