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Ladies Football All Ireland Minor Semi-Final
Well over a month since they claimed the Ulster Ladies minor title at the expense of Donegal, the Tyrone minors will return to action on Sunday as they attempt to reach the all Ireland decider in Tuam, but it’s Cork that stand between them and that a place in the final.
This youthful Tyrone side, perhaps a year ahead of expectation took the Ulster crown at Irvinestown in May. Since that thriller Tyrone’s players have returned to club football but have been boosted by a return to fitness of several key personnel who missed the provincial final and that will give Pius Fox and Louise Daly a major lift.
Cork, with a proven track record at senior level will go into Sunday’s clash in Galway as slight favourites. Building on national under 14 success from 2006 and again in 2009 the bulk of the current minor side know what it takes to claim an all Ireland.
Brushing aside the challenge in Munster, Cork are well aware though that this current Tyrone team will be no push over. Their never say die approach to the game was more than evident against Donegal in the Provincial decider which was won courtesy of a last minute goal from Terri McCusker.
Few gave a youthful Tyrone a chance against the three in a row chasing champions, full of experienced players Donegal went into the tie as favourites, yet with belief in their own ability and a determined focused approach Tyrone sealed a dramatic victory with that injury time goal pushing them over the line.
The result though came as no surprise to those who had watched this squad develop. It was a fully deserved victory and there was nothing fortunate about it. Tyrone had been outstanding from the start, foraging for every ball, not allowing Donegal to get into their free flowing style and above all trying to play good football on a slippery sod.
For the Tyrone management of Pius Fox and Louise Daly this was just reward even though that the bulk of this squad will be available again next season. However they are no strangers to winning with many of them Under 16 Ulster champions under this same management team.
Fox has refocused his and the team’s attentions ahead of this all Ireland semi-final,
“We have been working very hard since the Ulster final. It’s been a long long break but what we have done has been geared toward this clash with Cork. The girls did have time off for exams and club football but once we all came together again there has been no slacking”
Tyrone’s management and players are well aware of the challenge that lies ahead against Cork, and the other side of the draw is no easier with Galway facing Dublin. A semi and final loss at the hands of Dublin in recent years has been as close as Tyrone have come at minor level. There’s a feeling that at underage level Ulster teams have been well off the mark in recent years. At under 14 grades Ulster sides have been on the wrong side of very heavy beatings, prompting Ulster council chiefs to ponder what next.
Tyrone have used their time wisely and with captain Faoiltiarna Keenan recovered from injury Daly and Fox are looking forward to this all Ireland minor semi-final,
“We have the ability in this squad to produce a quality performance and we will certainly need one against what we believe to be a very good Cork team. They have been knocking on the door and will be building on other underage success. There’s a step up from Ulster but it’s one we are capable of taking. We have had a good build up and we have everyone available, you can’t ask for more than that”