Friday 24 November 2017

Red Hands look too strong

Ulster U-21 FC Final Cavan v Tyrone, Brewster Park, 8.0, S McLaughlin (Fermanagh)

After their three-game saga with Down and near miss against Monaghan, Tyrone are expected to seal another Ulster title at the expense of Cavan in Enniskillen tonight.

But the Breffni men shouldn't be taken too lightly. Wins over Fermanagh and last year's beaten All-Ireland finalists Donegal at Brewster Park have propelled Terry Hyland's side into their second successive provincial decider at this grade.

"We're underdogs. Tyrone have won two minor All-Irelands in the last two years so they are very strong," said Hyland, who also manages the county's senior side along with Val Andrews.

Of the squad that were beaten in last year's Ulster final, 19 are eligible again this time around. Barry Reilly and Jack Brady did the damage in the semi-final, while Alan O'Mara has impressed between the posts.

Four U-21s started against Louth in the National League, but Hyland largely held this group of players back from the senior side in a bid to allow them to develop.

"Too often in Cavan in the past, we've thrown young players straight in at the deep end and expected them to perform. We wanted to give these lads a chance to come together as a group."

This will be Tyrone's fifth outing in the competition and while Cavan go into the game with a clean bill of health, Hyland is concerned that his side have been idle for four weeks.

"We'd feel that's more of a disadvantage to be without a game for as long as we have but we're back in a final. Cavan don't get in too many finals and we want to change that mindset. We'd like to think that we can compete anyway," he said.

Odds: Cavan 7/4 Tyrone 4/7 Draw 7/1

Verdict: Tyrone

Donnchadh Boyle

Irish Independent

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