Devlin hails Tyrone character

By Michael McMullan

TYRONE u-20 manager Paul Devlin hailed the character of his team after another dramatic finish saw the Red Hands see off rivals Derry on Wednesday night.

A late fisted point from Gavin Potter won the game for Tyrone after they shipped a goal from Johnny McGuckian seconds earlier.

Substitutes Ruairi McCullagh and Noah Grimes helped Tyrone onto a three-point lead before Derry’s goal turned the game on its head.

Tyrone threw the dice one last time. Goalkeeper Conor McAneney worked a kick-out to Conor O’Neill on the right flank before Potter, Grimes, Eoin McElholm worked the move Potter finished.

The dramatic victory after Tyrone’s draw with Down a week earlier. Trailing 1-4 to 0-1 after 25 minutes, they clawed their way back before Omagh Hogan Cup winning captain Callum Daly hit an equaliser.

“With anything in life, you have to have a bit of character about yourself,” Devlin said.

“I’ve been blessed through the years with characters that I’ve come across through the years, that’s not just Tyrone, that’s through all football in general.

“It’s the bit of desire to gives it to you and if you can transfer that back to the players as well, it’s a big help going forward in life.”

Devlin was happy Tyrone had the desire to work the last move upfield for Potter’s point. He hailed goalkeeper McAneney for the kick-out that engineered the goal after Tyrone lost possession on the kick-out before that.

“He got it away well so Conor took a lot of credit for that,” Devlin said of the game-winning move.

“Full credit to them, our boys put their head down and didn’t switch it off, they went at it again.

“Look, there’s more games we’ve played in front of us here and there’s a lot to play for in the year yet so there is.”

The win gives Tyrone a chance to top their group when they entertain Monaghan in the final group game. It wasn’t something Devlin admits to targeting before a ball was kicked in the competition.

It was all about the next game; see where it would take them before taking stock and moving on.

Looking further ahead, to the long-term, Devlin has always spoken about underage teams being about one thing – getting players to a place where they can pull on a Tyrone senior jersey.

U-20 player Ben Cullen is currently focussing on Tyrone’s senior team at the minute, getting more time due to injuries and a necessity.

There have been players feeling into the u-20 camp from the back to back Hogan Cup winning Omagh CBS with their manager Diarmuid McNulty also joining Devlin this season as an u-20 selector.

“The amount of work’s been done there and from all the lads, from the coaches right down,” Devlin said of the player pathway in the county.

“Up in Garvaghey, there’s u-15, u-16 academies going there through to minors. They are doing a lot of great work through there too.

“The big thing these lads had to learn this year was that when they came through the (2021 All-Ireland) Minor Championship a couple of years ago, maybe they were getting a lot of stuff their own way,” he added about a commanding run to a one-point defeat at the hands of Meath in the final.

”We said from day one, that’s not going to happen this year. It’s not going to stand to them. A couple of years ago when we won (2022 u-20) All-Ireland, we had a lot of tough games.

“We had a cracking game here against Donegal as well, went to the wire like that too. They are the games standing lads looking forward in life.”

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