GAA Football

Fox: Solid defence the foundation for Tyrone's run to All-Ireland minor final

Tyrone players celebrate after their Ulster MFC final win over Donegal. The Red Hands have posted some high scoring totals this season but it is their defensive solidity which has helped take them to an All-Ireland final Picture: Philip Walsh.
BY FRANCIS MOONEY

SOLID and defiant, Tyrone's defence has been the foundation stone for a string of spectacular performances that have blazed a trail to today's All-Ireland MFC final.

While a free-scoring attack has grabbed the headlines, a spirit of stubborn resistance from behind has been the driving force.

With no more than nine points conceded in any of the Red Hands' four games to date, organisation and consistency have proved highly effective.

“Our defence is solid, it's been a very low score we have conceded in all the big games this year,” said full-back Ronan Fox.

“The defence has been solid in all the games, and we knew they would have to be solid in this one, for we had been watching what Cork had been doing in Munster.

“We knew they had a few key players in the forward line that could get scores, but I thought we all held out well in defence.

“But all credit must go to the forwards, they put on a show, and some of the scores they put over were just magnificent.”

With many of the games settled in Tyrone's favour long before the final whistle, manager Gerard Donnelly has been able to turn to his bench and offer game time for as many squad members as possible.

And the positive impact of substitutes has been one of the stand-out features of a stylish run to tomorrow's decider against Meath.

“The bench can win you games, and it's one of our key assets in this team,” said the Loughmacrory teenager.

“Anybody could be starting on this team. when we play in-house matches there's not much between any of the players, and they know when they come on, they have their job to do, to get us over the line, and they have done that in most of our games this year.

“And the men coming off the bench are doing a job too, so we have that strength in depth, and that's important.”

Leinster champions Meath have negotiated their own impressive passage to the final, fulfilling the promise and potential that was evident even before a ball was kicked in this year's series.

“Any team that gets to an All-Ireland final is going to be a good side.

“I don't know much about Meath, but they beat Sligo, who won their own provincial championship, so they must be a good side.”

From Healy, to Brewster, to O'Connor, and now on to Croke Park, the journey ends tomorrow where every young Gaelic footballer dreams of playing.

“That's what you dream of when you're growing up, an All-Ireland final,” said Fox.

“From U6s playing for your club, this is what you look to, to get to an occasion like this and represent your county.”

And the Tyrone Minors, having played in front of restricted attendances throughout the Championship, are assured of their biggest cohort of supporters to date, with the county's Senior side also in action at Croke Park.

“There will be a massive crowd, playing in Croke Park in front of that, it's young people's dreams.

“I've never played there before myself, but I can't wait for it honestly.”

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GAA Football