Wednesday 21 August 2019

I would like to think I could play any role Mickey hands me - Donnelly

Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone's Mattie Donnelly. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tyrone star Mattie Donnelly insists that they always backed themselves to return to the business end of the championship despite their early-summer setback at the hands of Donegal in the Ulster Championship.

Mickey Harte's men grabbed their second win of the Super 8s campaign against Cork and in the process secured a spot in the All-Ireland semi-final. It was their fifth win in successive weekends that also saw them down Longford, Kildare, Cavan and Roscommon.

"It didn't rock us, we weren't down and out. We took a lot of learnings from it though, and that's what we've always done when we've had a setback," he said. "There were so many learnings from that Donegal game and it was just about getting momentum again through the back door. We always had faith and belief that we would give ourselves a chance to be back in this position."

Tyrone looked in deep trouble at times last Saturday night. They were five down at half-time, having trailed by seven in the first half after the concession of two goals. It meant they were facing into the possibility of having to beat Dublin to keep their season alive.

"You can never ever pinpoint one thing in football, so is the amount of things at play. Maybe it was the five weeks on the trot; maybe when we played Cork last year, maybe that was on our mind.

Identified "Look, we spoke all week, we had identified how dangerous they were, and how they performed against two of the best teams in the country in Ireland - the best side in Ireland last week. We can't say it was complacency. Their start was the worst start you can get in Gaelic football - that goal gave them a pep in their step and maybe deflated us a little bit. It took us a while to react well to that. Before you knew it, you were seven down and we were happy it was only five at half-time." 

Their poor first-half showing saw Harte perform major surgery on his side, introducing three half-time subs and also sending Donnelly into the full-forward line. The Trillick man was superb after the restart, kicking three points and having a hand in both of Tyrone's goals.

"Ah look, we reverted to the way we set up in the league. I was giving Cathal (McShane) company and it worked well in the second half. 

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"I, like a lot of the footballers in that team, are comfortable in a number of positions. That's what we pride ourselves on. The way we played, you find yourselves in a lot of positions and a lot of situations, so versatility has always been a trademark of Mickey's teams and that's something we try to focus on. I'd like to think I could play any role Mickey hands me, week on week."

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