Tuesday 21 November 2017

Red Hands playing to their strengths in ultimate test

All-Ireland MFC final
Mayo v Tyrone
Croke Park, 1.15
C Lane (Cork)

16 September 2013; Powering the GAA Minors: electric Ireland linked up with Minor GAA finalists Stephen Coen, left, Mayo captain, and Shea Hamill, Tyrone vice-captain, ahead of the 2013 electric Ireland GAA Football and Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Finals to announce that Electric Ireland have committed a prize fund of 10,000 to the county boards of the winning Football and Hurling Minor teams in order to promote the Minor game in their county. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
16 September 2013; Powering the GAA Minors: electric Ireland linked up with Minor GAA finalists Stephen Coen, left, Mayo captain, and Shea Hamill, Tyrone vice-captain, ahead of the 2013 electric Ireland GAA Football and Hurling All-Ireland Minor Championship Finals to announce that Electric Ireland have committed a prize fund of 10,000 to the county boards of the winning Football and Hurling Minor teams in order to promote the Minor game in their county. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Marie Crowe

Marie Crowe

Going into today's game, Tyrone boss Mickey Donnelly feels that his side's mental strength will see them through.

They have battled hard to earn their spot against Mayo. After suffering a crushing defeat in the Ulster final to Monaghan, they bounced back to beat Kerry after extra-time in the All-Ireland quarter-final and then earned a narrow victory over Roscommon in the semi-final.

"We are hoping that the mental toughness our players have shown will help us coming into the final," explained Donnelly. "While Mayo had to battle against Galway in the Connacht semi-final, they didn't have the same challenge in their quarter- and semi-final."

Playing in Croke Park in front of the Mayo crowd doesn't faze Donnelly – he feels his side are well equipped to deal with it and that it might actually help them.

"It's going to be a big challenge of course, there is big expectancy in Mayo and there will be big support for them. While that could go in Mayo's favour, it could also go against them too. If things are very tight in the latter stages, I'm sure the Mayo crowd will be behind them but they might feel the pressure as well."

Mayo selector Eoin Sweeney is of a different mindset. He is positive that having so many fans supporting the minor team will be a huge benefit to the players on the day.

"I think it will be an advantage and I hope that they get in early," said Sweeney.

"When the game is in the melting pot with ten or 15 minutes to go I think having the crowd behind them will give our boys a lot of encouragement and a bit of a lift. The boys said that the noise the Mayo supporters made against Monaghan lifted them."

Having the senior team in the final has meant that there has been no major hype surrounding the minors. They have gone about their business and preparations under the radar. For the Connacht champions, it's just another game and they plan to play it and not the occasion.

But Mayo, managed by Enda Gilvarry, have put the work in. Most of the players have came through their academies and those that didn't were monitored by the coaches before being called into the squad. The academies start at under 14 level and progress right through the underage ranks. The coaches work on strength and conditioning, football skills, nutrition, hydration and other aspects of elite training.

Mayo have been a very impressive force this season. They beat Galway in the Connacht semi-final, then they disposed of Roscommon to earn a spot in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

Westmeath provided the opposition but not much of a challenge and Mayo eased past them to set up a semi-final against Ulster champions Monaghan. Again Mayo made light work of their opponents racking up 3-19 in the process.

Verdict: Mayo

Mayo: M Mulligan; E Doran, S Cunniffe, D Kenny; M Hall, S Coen, S Conlon; V Roughneen, D O'Connor; C Loftus, M Plunkett, P Prendergast; D Doherty, L Irwin, T Conroy.

Tyrone: S Fox; C Byrne, R Quinn, C McCann; S Hamill, C Morris, P McGirr; R Nugent, F Burns; D Mulgrew, C McKenna, R McGlone; L Brennan, D Gallagher, S McGrath

Marie Crowe

Sunday Independent

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