Red Hand boss Paul Devlin insists Tyrone will ‘hug’ Carrick for the U-20 final

Paul Devlin says he has “no problem” with the GAA’s move to host this year’s All-Ireland U-20 final in Carrick-on-Shannon and insisted his Tyrone team should choose both the venue and the occasion will “hug”.

Evlin and Brian Flanagan, the Kildare manager who he faces in Leitrim tomorrow, have made separate requests after their respective semi-final victories last weekend for the game to be played at Croke Park, a venue both men felt was appropriate.

But Devlin stressed at a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s final that Tyrone was quick to move on after it was confirmed they would be playing at the Páirc Seán MacDiarmaida.

“I was asked the question and of course that’s always going to come to mind,” Devlin explained, “because when you’re a young lad you always have coaches talking to you that one day the whole goal is going to be in Play Croke Park.

“Some of us were lucky to have played there. It’s not meant to be and we’re going to hug Carrick.”

Last but not least, Tyrone’s presence in this year’s final has, according to Devlin, “improved things in the county” following Ulster’s poor quarter-final defeat by Derry a couple of weeks ago.

They last won an All-Ireland in this class when it was Under-21 in 2015 when they defeated Tipperary in a thrilling final at Parnell Park and few could have predicted the extent of the harvest from the crop.

This team formed the backbone of last year’s All-Ireland senior team; Pádraig Hampsey, Conor Meyler, Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns and Cathal McShane are the most important among them.

“People are looking forward to another group of guys,” confirmed Devlin. “The lads really made a mark last year, they put Tyrone back on the map with their fourth All-Ireland.

“What I’m saying to people is don’t use the U-20s coming this week scenario as something to maybe beat the seniors who played last week. We have to hug the seniors and where they stand the boys put a lot of time and effort into getting their fourth All-Ireland.

“Things just haven’t worked out for them so far this year. A bit of luck as the U-20s are going well the boys are (hopefully) getting the bite back, giving a good boost through qualifying and I’m sure you’ll be seeing a little bit more from the Tyrone seniors before the year does is over.”

Of course, many of the eyes on Carrick-on-Shannon tomorrow will be scanning Ruairí Canavan for his Laugh at cluiche performance against Kerry at Portlaoise last Sunday.

If his last name precedes him, of course, Canavan has more than lived up to expectations with his performances for Tyrone this year.

“I don’t think the word pressure will mean anything to Ruairí, it’s not built into him at all,” Devlin predicted.

“If you’re talking about keeping boys going and joking around a bit, then we’re talking about this boy.

“He takes the game as it comes, lovely boy. He’s grounded, he comes from a grounded background, he doesn’t take anything for granted.

“When you give Ruairí a new shirt or jersey he always says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and that’s always a good sign for a boy, he really appreciates everything that’s done for him.

“He goes out at the weekend and drains the tank for the team as usual.”

Kildare had an easier semi-final against Sligo and an extra 24 hours of preparation time, but Devlin only sees parallels between the finalists.

“They’re a big, athletic, hard-running team, so all-around capable footballers,” he remarked. “We have to play our top game that day to get over the line.” Red Hand boss Paul Devlin insists Tyrone will ‘hug’ Carrick for the U-20 final

Fry Electronics Team

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