Victory over Donegal saw Tyrone Under 21s crowned kings of Ulster, but there will be no time lavished on celebrations as they go in search of a first All-Ireland final since 2003.
That’s because this weekend they find themselves squaring up to impressive Connacht champions Roscommon, who retained their provincial title in midweek with a thrilling win over Galway at Tuam that encapsulated everything good about Gaelic football.
The Rossies earned their ninth Connacht title with a 3-14 to 3-11 win, both teams exponents of the classic skills of high fielding, quality kicking, tackling and blocking, devoid of any cynical or negative tactics. Diarmuid Murtagh was chief scorer with 1-7, while Ultan Harney and Cathal Compton were also excellent for Roscommon.
“Unquestionably, they are hot favourites,” said Tyrone’s down-to-earth manager Feargal Logan. Roscommon football is on the rise, their seniors recently having been promoted to Division One of the National League.
“And the U21s have been All-Ireland runners-up in 2012 and 2014, defeated on both occasions by a strongly fancied Dublin team.
“They’ve been doing lots of good work at this level for years, and it’s showing with the Roscommon seniors now. Both they and Dublin are generally regarded as the big teams.” admitted Logan.
“Against Donegal we had to empty absolutely every ounce of energy. The silverware certainly lifted the spirits in the county, but there’s still a lot more to be done.”
“This is a cut-throat competition, and were now down to the last four. We’ll have to focus everything towards Roscommon,” said the determined and confident Stewartstown clubman.
Markievicz Park, Sligo is the venue for the Roscommon clash on Saturday, the throw-in time, 6pm. The game will be televised live on TG4.
In the other U21 semi-final, it’s no surprise to anybody that All-Ireland title hat-trick seeking Leinster and defending champions Dublin will face Tipperary, that match also set to be televisied by TG4.