Donnelly demands more consistency

By Barry O’Donnell

TYRONE minor manager Gerard Donnelly is throwing down the gauntlet to his charges to try and put back-to-back wins together when they tackle Monaghan in a crunch Group A Ulster Championship clash at Ardboe this Saturday lunchtime.

The Red Hands form has been patchy in both league and championship throughout the course of 2024 thus far and they could well require victory against the Farney visitors to ensure a top three finish in their section, which would guarantee their progress to the Ulster quarter-finals.

The side eased to a 2-12 to 0-4 triumph over the group whipping boys Fermanagh at sunny Belcoo last Saturday, with Enda Donaghy and Jamie Concannon the goalscorers.

And now Donnelly is setting the target of two wins on the bounce for his troops, given they have tended to blow hot and cold over the past few weeks.

Losses in the Ulster League Shield decider to Armagh and in the Ulster Championship to Donegal have pockmarked their progress this term, something which the Stewartstown man wants to see eradicated from their game.

“It’s hard to see where you stand until you get on a run with back-to-back games. That’s the big challenge for these lads, can they put back-to-back performances together?

“We wouldn’t be overly happy with our work over the full hour against Fermanagh but it was a warm day and the game was over pretty early on the scoreboard. It was tough for the lads to keep going and keep that intensity up.

“I suppose you would just say job done. It’s two points and that’s it. The big game is now next weekend against Monaghan to see how we stack up against another top team.”

Even a loss this weekend mightn’t prevent Tyrone finishing in the top three, but that is the last thing on Donnelly’s mind as he continues preparations for Saturday’s contest by the shores of Lough Neagh.

“You want to go out and try and win every game. Whether we had beaten Donegal last week it wouldn’t have mattered, we still want to beat Monaghan regardless. Hopefully we will get a good week’s preparation in because Monaghan are going to come in absolutely flying.

“They beat Down on Saturday so they are buzzing with two wins from two. It will be a big test for us no doubt. It will be our last group game and that will decide whether we finish second or third or even have a chance of getting top spot.”

The visit of Monaghan will bring back painful memories for Donnelly as it was the Oriel County who prevailed on penalties following a dramatic Ulster semi-final last year. While the personnel in both camps has altered considerably since then, the Tyrone manager expects another tough battle.

“They are doing great work in their schools and in their youth at county level. They were in the All-Ireland Minor final last year and beat us in the Ulster semi on penalties so we know all about them.

“This will be another massive one and we really need to be coming with the right attitude because Monaghan will give everything they have. If we aren’t prepared for it mentally and physically then we will be in big trouble. So it’s all to play for.”

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