Donnelly: “We’ve a massive, massive hurdle to climb”

Tyrone manager Mickey Donnelly admits his side face a huge task at the weekend
Tyrone manager Mickey Donnelly admits his side face a huge task at the weekend

When Tyrone take to the field on Sunday Mickey Donnelly will become the fourth consecutive county minor manager to contest an All Ireland final.

“There wasn’t too many Tyrone people expecting us to beat Donegal in the first round of the championship. People forget that very, very quickly. All of a sudden people are tipping us to win an All Irelands.

“Paddy Power have us at 9/4 and the last time I checked Paddy Power was driving a right decent car. People shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re going in as massive, massive underdogs. We’ve a massive, massive hurdle 
to climb.”

While his side haven’t been fancied this year Donnelly notes that their work ethic has been excellent fighting right to the end of their quarter final and semi final clashes.

“They are incredibly hard working. It’s a trait that we spotted in them a long time ago really. Myself and Kieran [McHugh-assistant manager] were involved with these boys a long time ago at under 14s.

“I suppose it was something that stood out. A lot of these lads have battling 
qualities and they are tenacious and they want to win. You can rest assured that they’ll want to win on 
Sunday week.”

The Aghaloo clubman admitted that he could only dream of reaching an All Ireland when the trialling process began late last year.

“Of we course we didn’t expect to be here last October. You hope and dream and aspire and that’s were you want to be. The way the lads have conducted themselves. The way they have fought out tough battles and the way they have overcome adversity is a testament to them.

“We can only tell them but at the end of the day it’s up to the lads when they cross that white line and they haven’t let us down once and I don’t see that next Sunday’s going to be any different.”

The trials that Donnelly ran produced a squad with plenty of footballers and he admits that there’s not much separating the top players and those who will miss out on a matchday panel place.

“It is a squad game now. It is about the 24 players we have togging out and the 30 players we have available to us. I think in most games we’ve used four or five subs in every match and it’s a reflection of the depth of talent that we have.

“I think we have a fairly even bunch of lads. Our top players not much better than number 30. That’s not being patronising, that’s what we honestly believe and that’s reflected by that nearly every game it’s been a different 24 togged out and nearly every game it’s a different subs that have come on. It’s all about trying to find the conundrum that will work against Mayo.”

The only promise that Donnelly would make was that his side would give their all: “We can’t guarantee anything. All we can guarantee is that we will all do our best and I’ve no doubt that we’re well prepared and we’re relatively injury free and we’re going to give this one heck of a shot.”