By Niall Gartland
THE Ulster Minor Championship is coming to the boil and Tyrone midfielder James Corry says that morale in the camp is high ahead of Saturday’s semi-final clash against Monaghan.
The Red Hands have won all four of their matches in this year’s campaign to date – group stage victories over Cavan, Armagh and Antrim followed by a quarter-final demolition of Fermanagh last Saturday.
They seem to be improving with every game, albeit that comes with the caveat that some of their opposition teams haven’t mustered much of a challenge. That said, you can only beat whatever’s in front of you and Corry is pleased with how it’s all shaping up.
“We didn’t get a lot of the lads playing school football back until the end of the league, so I suppose that group format did us well, and with a couple of challenge matches, we got a real bond, and it’s really coming together now over the past couple of weeks.”
Tyrone knocked in six goals as they ran out 28-point winners of Fermanagh at the weekend. It was evident from early on that it was a bit of a mismatch, but Tyrone kept their foot on the throttle and did a very professional job. The Red Hands have a strong substitute bench so there was no chance of complacency creeping in.
“You always have to go out and try your best, no matter what game it is. You can’t go into a game complacent, because that’s when teams can overturn you, no matter who they are. You always have to work hard anyway and fight for your place anyway, even in training, and in matches.”
Tyrone rattled in four goals in the first twenty minutes alone against Fermanagh and Corry also explains that they are trying to utilise the pace within the squad to build up an early lead.
“We’ve been trying hard all year to really punish teams with our pace. We have a lot of pace and we’re trying to get on the front foot early and put teams away as fast as we can.”
Corry is one of four Trillick players who are delivering for the Tyrone minors this season. He’s joined on the team by his cousins Sean and Liam, as well as his midfield colleague Nathan Farry, one of the stars of the Omagh CBS team that surged to Hogan Cup glory back in March.
“There’s a strong Trillick presence there, which is good for the club, and it’s good to see it.
On lining out alongside Nathan Farry in the middle sector, he added:
“I have been playing with Farry for years, and marked him for years.
“We know each other inside out and what we’re good at, and it’s easy to play with players like that.”
Tyrone found themselves in cruise control from the word go in their last two outings against Antrim and Fermanagh. But it’s unlikely to be quite so straightforward against Monaghan this weekend, a side managed by one of their stalwarts of the senior intercounty team of the last decade, Dermot Malone. They claimed an impressive win over Armagh last weekend and they’re sure to put it up to Gerard Donnelly’s team.
“All our focus is now on Monaghan. We know it’s a big step up, and we have to come back again and put in a big shift.”
Asked whether their facile wins over Antrim (8-17 to 0-2) and Fermanagh (6-21 to 2-4) represent poor preparation for the business end of the championship, Corry demurred:
“You can’t say it’s not good preparation, because boys are getting a run-out, and boys are getting more familiar with games and playing together.
“Even in those games, while the score-line might not do a lot of teams justice, you do have tough moments, and I think they will stand to us at the weekend.”