Devlin a man on a mission as Canavan leads Tyrone charge
With a Canavan leading the Tyrone charge for All-Ireland glory, it's no surprise the county's U-20 manager Paul Devlin is preaching caution and stressing that his priority is to develop talent for the future.
Devlin will send out a team that includes Darragh Canavan, son of Peter, into tomorrow's EirGrid All-Ireland U-20 FC semi-final against Cork in Tullamore, insisting that their opponents' 13-point rout of Kerry in last week's Munster final has shunted them into the favourites' role for the title.
And while Devlin would like nothing better than to see the All-Ireland U-20 trophy take up residence in the O'Neill county, he is determined to take a longer-term view of what he sees as his "mission" with the U-20 squad.
"I have always said that my main target is to unearth new talent for Tyrone at senior level. If we come again next year and there are three or four lads that Mickey Harte, Gavin Devlin and Stephen O'Neill believe are ready for their senior squad, I will feel I have done my job. It's a mission for me," explains Devlin.
"Don't get me wrong, though. To get a bit of silverware along the way, especially at All-Ireland level, would be great but we have to keep the long-term goal in sight."
Devlin's drive to see some of his U-20 squad elevated to senior level looks destined to succeed given the current form of players such as Seán Óg McAleer, Tiarnan Quinn, Michael Conroy and skipper Rúairí Gormley among others.
Canavan - a young man whose surname has assured him plenty of attention, on and off the field, already - and Matthew Murnaghan have already been accorded senior status but are currently remaining on U-20 duty.
Tyrone left last year's Ulster U-20 champions Derry on the seat of their pants by romping to a handsome 4-13 to 1-10 win in the recent provincial final but although his team's form has been progressive, Devlin is aware that Cork will form a huge obstacle in the higher intensity of the last four of the All-Ireland title race.
"Any team that can beat Kerry, irrespective of what level it is at, is worthy of respect and we know that we have a big task on our hands, there is no point in saying otherwise," declares Devlin.
"Yet we have to continue to have belief in our own ability and in our determination to maintain the success that Tyrone have enjoyed at underage levels over the course of the years.
"My team has already undertaken a lot of work in terms of strength and conditioning, and their mental strength is good. These are the kind of assets we will need going in against Cork."
Canavan has been hitting the high spots with Devlin's side and it was his skills that helped put a shine on the success over Derry. A chip off the old block, the youngster may have only bagged two points in that game, but it was his creative side which really caught the eye as he worked hard to set up a brace of scores for team-mates.
Indeed, the Tyrone full-forward line of James Garrity, McAleer and Quinn cut loose to register 2-7 of the team's 4-13 total in a strong burst of finishing power.
In the other All-Ireland U-20 semi-final, impressive Leinster winners Dublin lock horns with Galway at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford this afternoon (5.0).
Fresh from his swashbuckling display in that 13-point final win over Laois, Ciarán Archer will know that he will come under plenty of focus from the Tribesmen.
Archer amassed 3-8 of his side's 4-18 tally that night and the attacker benefited hugely from a supply of quality ball, with joint-captain James Doran finding him with consistent regularity.
If the youngsters from the capital are to prevail, Doran will need to be similarly influential against a Galway team that are sure to be well primed by All-Ireland-winning captain Pádraic Joyce, whose attacking imprint was all over their impressive run through Connacht.
Much of their positive play stems from the input of classy forwards Liam Costello (Milltown) and Pádraig Costello (Dunmore), with both prominent as Joyce's troops eased past Roscommon by 10 points before having six points to spare over Mayo in the provincial decider.
Their provincial win was of little surprise given that they cruised through the development league during the spring, overcoming Dublin with a degree of comfort along the way. Joyce and his players will know a far stiffer test awaits this time.