Tyrone buzzing with anticipation as confidence is running high
The anticipation was palpable among some of Tyrone's youngest stars this week at Mickey Harte's hometown club Errigal Ciaran ahead of Tyrone's semi-final clash with Dublin tomorrow.
The club's underage footballers had the heads down training hard on a wet night in Cardinal McCrory Park, Dunmoyle, eager to collect their tickets for the sold-out showdown afterwards - and all were certain of a Tyrone victory.
"Up Tyrone!" shouted U6 player Mairead Mullan, as she held up her pair of golden tickets.
The club has produced many of the county's most famous heroes, including the Harte family and 2003 All-Ireland winning captain Peter Canavan.
Now the next generation of greats is emerging with Peter's son Ruairi Canavan, a Tyrone minor and U16 player at the club, carrying on the tradition.
Another player on the winning 2003 panel, Cormac McGinley, trains Ruairi's team, who were taking on rivals St Malachy's on Thursday night.
McGinley told the Irish Independent he was confident Tyrone had a "fighting chance" against the Boys in Blue.
"I think there is a general realisation among Tyrone that everything needs to go well for Tyrone, we need the lucky break, the bounce of the ball to go our way. They will ask questions of them and if Tyrone can keep it tight late in the second half, I think they are in with a mighty shout," he said.
As St Malachy's warmed up at the grounds ahead of the U16 clash, Tyrone legend Ciaran Corr looked on, his son now a strong football talent.
Corr captained the 1995 Tyrone team that missed out on All-Ireland glory to Dublin by just one point. Corr reckoned Tyrone were psychologically ready now.
"Back then you probably worried more about your individual performance, there'd be nerves obviously. Nowadays, the psychological and mental preparation of the teams would be well up there, so Tyrone will be psyched up," he said.
Like the cat among the pigeons, there was a lone Dub among the Tyrone fans.
Married to local man Mark, self-proclaimed "GAA ma" Orla O'Sullivan, originally from Glencullen, Co Dublin, moved to Tyrone in 2008 when the couple came home from America. Orla's sons Ruairi and Ronan both play football with the underage club, but while she has adopted local parish of Dunmoyle as her home, her heart will be with Jim Gavin's men.