Saturday 25 February 2017

Duffy banking on Mayo work ethic to shackle hot Red Hands

Jackie Cahill

MAYO manager Tony Duffy has admitted that Tyrone's tag of favourites is fully justified ahead of tomorrow's ESB All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final at Croke Park.

The two counties renew rivalries at this grade in what is a repeat of the 2008 final, won by Tyrone after a replay.

The Ulster champions start as hot favourites to advance to another decider, having demonstrated very good form so far this season.

The Red Hands cantered to provincial championship success and defeated last year's All-Ireland champions Armagh in the Ulster final.

Against Kerry in the All-Ireland quarter-final, Tyrone ran out comprehensive 2-12 to 0-9 winners and Duffy reflected: "Tyrone have been very impressive and dismantled everybody in no uncertain terms. We're underdogs but we're going up to Croke Park to put on a good show. And if we play, there's no reason why we can't be there or thereabouts."

Duffy, who took over from Ray Dempsey at the start of this year, added: "I don't think there has been a game like this with Tyrone as raging hot favourites. It will be interesting to see how that pans out. We believe in our own ability, we fully expect it to be an almighty battle and we fully expect that Tyrone will be excellent. We must match them in every facet of their game."

Duffy, who guided Mayo to a third successive Connacht minor title this year, continued: "We have a very good team ethic. There are a couple of very good players, a lot of them maybe not outstanding individuals but very good team players.

"That's the ethos we're trying to foster, to play for each other. It's got us this far, it does count for a lot and we hope that it does on Sunday."

Tyrone boss Raymond Munroe, who took charge of the 2008 All-Ireland-winning team, is not concerned by the view of the bookmakers.

"It means absolutely nothing," Munroe insisted. "We're there on merit and Mayo are there on merit. It's a completely new game and this is the first time that both panels are meeting each other. It makes for an interesting game and any team that reaches the semi-final of any competition is quality."

Tyrone have looked ominously good this season but Munroe warned: "You can only talk about the right things. It's hard to know the mindset of young people until the day of the game.

"After 10 or 15 minutes, you'll start to get a picture."

Tyrone have already experienced Croke Park this year, against Kerry, while Mayo's epic quarter-final victory over Offaly was played at Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon.

But Munroe is not convinced that a previous run-out at GAA HQ will count as too much of an advantage tomorrow.

He explained: "There won't be a lot of people in and there's no senior team coming later from the same county. I'm not sure if it's an advantage or disadvantage. Before the quarter-final, we had only one player who had played there before."

Irish Independent

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