Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tyrone U20 manager dedicates All-Ireland final win to the late Art McRory

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Eirgrid All-Ireland U20 Football Championship final Tyrone 1-20 Kerry 1-14

A devastating attacking performance carried Tyrone to a stylish and clinical triumph as they claimed a second Eirgrid All-Ireland U20 football title in three years.

The Red Hands were too hot for Kerry to handle as a great rivalry was renewed at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise.

The Ulster champions approached this title decider in the most positive manner possible, determined to operate on the front foot and take the game to their opponents.

Flair and creativity showcased a triumphant day for the Red Hands, ho had the finishers to make it all happen in Eoin McElholm, Ruairi McCullagh and Ronan Cassidy, the terrific trio who shared a 17 points haul.

All but two of Tyrone’s scores came from play on an afternoon when their attacking mentality was a jot to witness, not just from the offensive unit, but from a confident collective, exemplified by outstanding defender Joey Clarke, a stand-out figure at corner back and a goal-scorer on the biggest day of a glowingly promising career.

“I’m delighted for the people of Tyrone, I’m delighted for the families,” said Tyrone manager Paul Devlin, who has guided his county to four provincial tiels and two All-Irelands in his seven seasons in charge.

“I have been put in a role to look after these lads. That’s the trust the county board have placed in me to do this, and all I can do is offer back to Tyrone what I have done.

“I am 25 years doing this for Tyrone and I have enjoyed every minute of it, and it’s great to see the delight on people’s faces.

“There have been down days, but days like this make up for a lot of the down days.”

And he dedicated this latest success to a man who had been one of his own great influences during his playing days with the Red Hands, the late Art McRory, former Tyrone manager.

“There’s one person I want to mention today. This is the first All-Ireland Tyrone have won since the death of Arthur McRory, big Art.

“It was another All-Ireland won for Arthur McRory and the big man is looking down today and that’s sweet for him today.”

Tyrone's Joey Clarke celebrates after scoring a goal in his side's win over Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 FC final at Portlaoise on Sunday     Picture: Oliver McVeigh
Tyrone’s Joey Clarke celebrates after scoring a goal in his side’s win over Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 FC final at Portlaoise on Sunday Picture: Oliver McVeigh

Devlin was delighted to witness the outworkings of his philosophy as an advocate of pure football as his team of talented ball players expressed themselves in spectacular fashion.

“That’s Paul Devlin’s mark on football, I want to see lads going out and enjoying it and going at it, and that’s all I can ask from the lads.

“It’s been a roller-coaster year for us. We have had disappointment in different years, but when you get these opportunities, you tell the lads, this is your day and you don’t let it slip.”

Tyrone conceded the Kerry kick-out in the first half, allowing their opponents to build from deep and pick off scores through Cormac Dillon, Daniel Kirby and Eddie Healy, who shot them ahead in the 11th minute.

But McElholm and Cassidy had already displayed their finishing skills, and the Red Hands collective attacking power fashioned a 14th minute goal, finished to the net via a deflection by corner back Joey Clarke, with Cassidy supplying the killer pass at the crucial moment.

There’s one person I want to mention today. This is the first All-Ireland Tyrone have won since the death of Arthur McRory, big Art. It was another All-Ireland won for Arthur McRory and the big man is looking down today and that’s sweet for him today.”

—  Paul Devlin

Playmaker Odhran Ferris, with his darting runs, and the surges of midfielder Rob Stack, helped keep the Kingdom in touch, and their ace finisher Cormac Dillon had three points on the board by the 20th minute to keep his side within two points.

But Tyrone hit four of the last six points of the first half, two of them from McCullagh, with Cormac Devlin finishing a flowing move as they took a 1-8 to 0-7 advantage into the interval.

Dillon, with a couple of frees, and substitute Ryan Diggin, were on target for a Kerry side powered by the strong running and support play of Charlie Keating, and they were still vey much in touch midway through the second half, as they cancelled out Tyrone scores from McCullagh, Odhran Brolly and McElholm.

But the Red Hands hit another purple patch at the beginning of the final quarter, reeling off five on the spin to go eight clear.

They had to withstand a renewed Kerry onslaught, but superb defending from Clarke, Ben Hughes and sweeper Callum Daly frustrated the Munster champions, until they were awarded a penalty, smashed to the net by Luke Crowley.

Crowley added a point to narrow it down to three, but Tyrone were still full of running and brimming with energy as they saw out the game with another volley of scores, the brilliant McElholm bringing his tally to seven from play.

Tyrone: C McAneney; J Clarke (1-0), B Hughes, Conor Devlin; S O’Hare, M Rafferty, O Brolly (0-1); R Fox, C O’Neill; Cormac Devlin (0-1), E McElholm (0-7), G Potter; R McCullagh (0-5, 0-1free), R Cassidy (0-5, 0-1 free), C Daly.

Subs: F Nelis for Conor Devlin (38), C Donnelly for Brolly (44), N Grimes for Potter (53), R Donnelly for Cassidy (61), C Owens (0-1) for McCullagh (58)

Kerry: M Tansley; M Lynch, D O’Callaghan, G Evans; C Keating, D O’Connor, C Lynch; R Stack, E Healy (0-2); D Kirby (0-1), O Ferris, T Kennedy; C Dillon (0-8, 0-3 frees, 0-1 mark), A Crowley, L Crowley (1-1, 1-0 pen).

Subs: R Diggin (0-1) for O’Callaghan (29), P Lane for A Crowley (h-t), F Murphy for Kirby (45), E Boyle (0-1) for Stack (46), A Segal for Evans (48).

Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).

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