‘Top class’ Donnelly is staying ahead of curve

17 October 2013; Peter Donnelly, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Cavan GAA, speaking during an AFL and GAA workshop. Castle Saunderson International Scout Centre, Co. Cavan. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Former U21 Cavan coach Finbar O’Reilly believes Peter Donnelly’s expertise has been a massive boost to the Tyrone senior set-up

By Ronan McSherry

TYRONE’S much acclaimed strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly has brought a winning mentality to the players under his guidance.

It is little wonder as the Coalisland Fianna player was a winner throughout his own playing career in gathering a staggering array of medals with club and county. At underage level he won championship medals with Na Fianna U16s and minors and was on the senior team that captured the O’Neill Cup in 2010.

He also captained Tyrone to lift the All Ireland Minor title in 2001 and won an U21 All Ireland medal. Peter was also on the Tyrone squads of 2005 and 2008 that won the Sam Maguire Cup and found time to captain UUJ to Sigerson Cup glory in 2008.

He was part of the management of Coalisland U21s that won back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008 before he took up a role as a Games Development Officer in Cavan.

During his tenure in the Breffini county he was involved with two U21 Ulster winning sides before Tyrone inevitably came knocking on his door. Last year he added to his burgeoning CV when working alongside Feargal Logan, Peter Canavan and Brian Dooher as Tyrone U21s won the All Ireland final. Still lining out with his club, Donnelly’s input into the Tyrone senior set-up has been hailed by the players and management.

Former U21 Cavan coach Finbar O’Reilly worked with Donnelly in schools and development squads.

He described the Fianna man as “absolutely top class.” O’Reilly, who manages club side Lacken, said, “Peter is extremely professional and very thorough in how he sets out training sessions and his plans.

“He is always looking for new ideas and stays ahead of the curve. He did amazing work with Cavan Minors and U21s in their development. He has an unbelievable hunger for new coaching ideas and looked at methods used by Premier league players as well as closely monitoring what happens in rugby and the AFL in Australia.

“I remember a few years ago a few of us went to Carlton House to watch the British and Irish Lions train. He has always aspired to get to the highest level of coaching.”

It was during his tenure in Cavan that the GAA in Tyrone took notice of Donnelly’s success and the high esteem in which he was held.

O’Reilly added, “Peter is a top lad and we could not speak highly enough of him in Cavan. He was involved with the Cavan team that reached the 2014 All Ireland quarter final so it was no surprise that Tyrone came looking for him. Mickey Harte obviously said, ‘Get this man home and use his expertise.’

“You have to give Mickey Harte credit but it is obvious that Peter Donnelly’s expertise has really added to the set-up. Tyrone is a serious force now and Donnelly has contributed so much to that.

“With his insight into the Cavan players it will be a big advantage for Tyrone on Sunday. Ninety per cent of the team were through his hands and he would know their game and temperament and weaknesses and I expect will use that to good effect.”

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