Tyrone forward Mark Donnelly sees Sunday’s Allianz Football League Division 1 final against Dublin as an opportunity for his younger team mates to gain valuable experience ahead of the Championship.
Mickey Harte will have a relatively inexperienced side for the Croke Park clash, but Donnelly thinks it is vital ahead of their Ulster tie against Donegal on 26 May.
Donnelly told www.irishexaminer.ie: “If you’re winning games, it becomes a habit, and that’s the sort of habit you want to get into coming into the championship, and it’s a great boost for the younger lads.
“And if they’re used to winning McKenna Cups and National Leagues, they’ll feel as if this is the norm, and nothing will faze them.
“At the beginning of the year, Mickey [Harte] set out to win every game, and to get into the top four, which would give us at least one extra game to prepare for the Donegal game, and I suppose it gives Mickey a chance to look at a wider range of players."
"We will be tested and hopefully we can give them a good game, and hopefully come out on the winning side" - Mark Donnelly
“Not only that, but to test them against the best teams in the country, which is very important in getting that competitive edge that you get from a semi-final and final, and we’re definitely going to get that against Dublin, because Dublin are the form team at the minute, they have clocked up a lot of scores this year.
“We will be tested and hopefully we can give them a good game, and hopefully come out on the winning side.”
Donnelly continued: “If you look back at the 2003 and 2005 All-Ireland winning teams, a lot of those fellows, like Brian McGuigan, Kevin Hughes and Conor Gormley, they were all young fellows with no fear. They had won under-age titles, they were full of confidence."
“And with this batch of young players coming in, the likes of Niall Morgan, Darren McCurry, Conor McAliskey, Mattie Donnelly, they’re confident players and they’re used to winning, and they want to carry that in at senior level, so it’s a great boost to have those type of players coming into the panel.”
The Carrickmore added: “If you look down the middle spine of the team, you have Niall Morgan, Conor Clarke at full-back, Mattie Donnelly at centre half, Peter Harte at centre forward, they’re all young players, and they’re not just fringe players.
“I suppose that’s what Tyrone maybe needed, they have brought a great injection of pace an enthusiasm into the team, and the likes of Ryan McKenna and Ronan McNamee have come in and played a lot of league football this year."
Live radio coverage of the Allianz National Leagues from 14:00 on Sunday 28 April on RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ RnaG and RTÉ.ie (Worldwide). Highlights of all the weekend’s Allianz League action on League Sunday on RTÉ Two and RTÉ.ie (Ireland only) from 19:30.