Friday 23 February 2018

Donnelly acknowledges best Tyrone performance in his time

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Mattie Donnelly has hailed Tyrone's performance on Sunday as the best in his time, after their crushing nine-point win over Donegal in Clones issued a real championship statement.

Donnelly has been around since the 2012 championship and has experienced plenty of highs and lows, but he believes last Sunday was better than anything they have produced in those six seasons.

It's a performance that gets them back onto the billboard which Dublin and Kerry currently occupy in the context of potential 2017 championship winners.

Conceding just eight frees and picking up no yellow cards underlined how disciplined Tyrone were in addition to their fluency.

"There were a lot of days where we just felt like we were in control, commanding, focused and disciplined," said Donnelly.

"But in recent memory, it probably is the best. People thought the game was going to be a lot closer than it was, so to win it convincingly, it's fresh in the memory and I would have to say it is our best."

Tyrone have hit 22 scores in back-to-back Ulster championship matches to dilute the suggestion that they are too defensive and risk-averse.

Donnelly has also challenged the assertion that playing football with his county has become a joyless experience.

"There is an impression out there that football is joyless, but it's from people who are not playing it," said the Trillick man.

"You ask anyone in our squad, they enjoy it. Number one, you enjoy training, you enjoy each other's company - that's the main thing.

"We like coming to training. Mickey (Harte), Horse (Gavin Devlin) and Peter (Donnelly) always have something different every night.

"We enjoy the training and the lifestyle of the county footballer. We are not monks all the time; we enjoy living healthy, but we enjoy going out and spending time with each other and winning. It really is a privilege. You mightn't be fit to do it, you might be sitting in the stand and you might be injured, so you really have to appreciate it when you are there."

Donnelly felt that despite the poor finish to the league they have been building towards this type of performance.

"Everyone outside the circle probably didn't see it coming, but we knew it was building inside us, we knew in the circle.

"Obviously a lot of people will read into a bit of form in the league and even the first day against Derry, but Mickey is always saying you bring out your best when it is required."

Irish Independent

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