Tyrone minor manager Mickey Donnelly was a reasonably happy man after yesterday’s second round of the Ulster Minor League at Killyclogher. His side took on a fancied Derry team and ran out very convincing 2-18 to 1-9 winners. However it should be pointed out that while Tyrone were short several possible starters Derry manager Paul Mc Ivor was minus a large contingent from the Maghera Mac Rory Cup final team.
All that said Tyrone produced a very solid team display which was built on hard work and intensity. Defensively, with Ruairi Sludden dropping back to provide a bit of additional cover, Tyrone looked very solid with Caolan Harvey, Conor Mallon and Ciaran Mc Laughlin particularly impressive. If there was one criticism it would be the over zealous tackling that resulted in several costly frees being conceded.
Donnelly appears to have considerable options in the middle of the field. Both starting midfielders were eventually replaced and while Mc Kenna and Molloy did nothing wrong their replacements Hampsie and Carroll played very well when given the opportunity. Hampsie in particular was very impressive and will surely be pushing for a starting berth next weekend against Donegal.
Tyrone looked very sharp in the forward line with Ciaran Mc Geary the orchestrator of most of their best work. His display was all about hard work and commitment and provided a steady supply of good ball into Sean Hackett and Mark Bradley. Tyrone have lots of pace in the forward line and they made good use of it with quality early ball which caused lots of problems for the Derry rearguard.
It was a fairly comfortable win in the end and indeed the second half was a bit of a procession after centre half forward Cormac O’Neill netted shortly after the restart. The manager will be happy with the win and the performance but will be under no illusions about the fickle nature of minor football. League wins are all well and good but will count for nothing when the first round of the championship comes around. What he will be hoping for is that the panel maintains their current work rate and performance level. This is a strong panel and competition for places will be keen. Such competition should ensure there is no drop in focus or concentration and will help to keep the players on their toes. If that is maintained then perhaps the most difficult job the manager could face is selecting from a fully fit squad.