One man who will be central to Tyrone’s chances on Sunday will their all action centre half forward Mark Donnelly.
Donnelly has grown into his role at centre half forward this season with his direct running causing problems for almost every defence Tyrone have faced.
The Carrickmore school teacher has put the summer holidays to good use this year, using his free time to help his recovery from Tyrone’s busy schedule.
“It’s good to have a bit of time on my hands because your usually running from school, home to get fed and then out the door and so during the summer you get a bit of time of to go to the pool, or go for a game of golf or go to see friends.
“It helps the recovery definitely because you get more of a chance to come up here and use the facilities in Garvaghey.”
Garvaghey has proven particularly useful for Donnelly with the new centre allowing him and the players the facilities to recover and prepare properly between games.
“There would be a lot of days I would come up here and use the cryo chambers, come into the ice baths and also then to use the facilities even to do shooting practice so it’s a great facility to have here and do that during the week. Even to get an extra bit of rest during the week, you don’t have to get up early in the morning.
Speaking about how the soon to be officially opened centre has benefitted the team this year Donnelly noted that it has added a sense to stability to training and preparations:
“I suppose in previous years you were not really sure, you were waiting on a text message that day to find out where you were going to be.
“It’s great knowing every single day where you are going to be in the same spot in this great facility here that we do have. You can arrange to come up anytime during the day to use the facilities which is great.”
Donnelly’s story is well known by now, having come into the squad as a 26 year old having been knocking on the door for some time. He’s particularly keen to make up for lost time come Sunday:
“I know personally it’s my first All Ireland semi final and I know for a lot of the boys that it’s their first All Ireland semi final so there will be a lot of hunger and determination in the squad and in the team to get to an All Ireland final.
“I know there are established players there but there are a lot of young boys and a lot of boys that like myself came in later to the panel and are very keen to get to our first ever All Ireland final.”
The Carrickmore man insisted that the squad were ignoring press talk and trying instead to focus on their own games.
“You hear a lot of people talking about it but I try to avoid reading papers in the run up to the game because there’s been a lot of negitive talk towards Tyrone.
“We’re just focussing on our game and bringing the positives to our game and the Mayo game and concentrating on our recovery from previous games.”
Looking ahead to the threat posed by Mayo, the Carrickmore wants to focus on his own job and let the management worry about the opposition:
“Mickey will be doing a lot of that video work and looking for players to look out for and I suppose over the next week or two we’ll be made of particular Mayo players to be looking out for.
“I suppose with Mayo they’ve got a load of good quality players and we’re going to have to play at the top of our game if we’re going to get through that game.
“Any player will always be looking for areas to improve on. Thankfully I’ve been able to play in ever game this year and hoepfully that will continue. Any gaelic footballer should always be looking to improve on whether that be tackling or shooting or any aspect of the game.”
Hopefully come Sunday evening Donnelly’s focus will be on an All Ireland final.