Donnelly: I never doubted we’d reach the semi final

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 13th August 2013'Tyrones Mathew Donnelly pictured at Tyrones GAA head quarters in Omagh ahead of their semi final All Ireland match with Mayo'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.com

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 13th August 2013'Tyrones Mathew Donnelly pictured at Tyrones GAA head quarters in Omagh ahead of their semi final All Ireland match with Mayo'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye.com

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Tyrone go in search of a place in the All Ireland football final on Sunday when they take on Connacht champions Mayo in Croke Park.

Indeed a football match might actually come as a relief to a squad who, in the aftermath of their victory over Monaghan have been castigated and had their character dragged through the mud.

Keen to play down the influence on the squad of the furore surrounding the Joe Brolly rant and the Sean Cavanagh tackle Matthew Donnelly insisted the squad were in their own “bubble.”

Donnelly revealed that although the physical exertions playing a number of closely fought encounters week after week had taken it’s toll on Tyrone over the summer the players never doubted they would reach an All Ireland semi final, even after defeat by Donegal in Ballybofey.

“We went in the back door into the qualifiers and week in, week out, in the [hot] weather it was hard recovery wise. It was physically demanding. But the break came.

“We always set our targets to get over the quarter final and get our recovery sorted and now our focus is full steam ahead for Mayo.”

Donnelly went on to stress the importance of the Tyrone squad reaching the National League final in the spring, a feat that had given Tyrone the belief they could compete at the highest level:

“I never doubted [that Tyrone would reach the semi final] to be honest. After the National League final the team took, I don’t know if it was huge belief or just hunger to get back to the big stage.

“After that it was a turning point in the season, playing in a big occasion, probably the biggest for a lot of us young boys after that our focus and aim to get back to a similar occasion by the end of the year. I suppose we were just focussed on achieving that.”

Donnelly admitted that Tyrone had failed to deliver in their Ulster championship contest with Donegal but notes that that didn’t stop their belief that they could realise their ultimate goal.

“After the Donegal game there was a lot of negitivity. It was built up with such hype and their was probably big expectations from us and we probably failed to deliver on them on that day.

“Within the group, alright we hurt for a few days, but it was just a changed route, that’s the way we seen it. A changed route to get to where we aimed to be. We just turned it into a positive.”

Donnelly spent much of his interview answering questions about Tyrone’s style of play and Sean Cavanagh but he insisted that the squad only had time to think about Mayo.

“I think Joe knew himself his remarks about Cavanagh’s character were probably over the top, I think everbody knows that.

“As a team we’re kind of in our own wee bubble in here (Garvaghey) we’re just focussed on the football side of things. We laughed it off and we’re not overly bothered by that.

“A lot has been made of that side of the game whereas they mightn’t be focussed on when we’re on the receiving end of it. I suppose people are annoyed by the cliche that everyone is doing it but it’s just part of the game.”