By Tommy Nethery
TYRONE u-20s assistant manager Dermot Carlin has welcomed the announcement that the All-Ireland Championship is to be completed in late October.
At one stage it looked like the county’s u-20 footballers would miss out on having a tilt at national glory after retaining their Ulster crown against Donegal back in early March
The semi-final had originally been penciled in for St Patrick’s Day at Croke Park but after all sport had been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic it appeared the u-20 series might be sacrificed as GAA fixture makers attempted to fit a number of competitions, both club and inter-county, into a small window.
But room has been found and Tyrone will now lock horns with Dublin on Saturday, October 17 and should they progress, Paul Devlin’s young charges will have a week to prepare for an All-Ireland final the following Saturday.
“It’ll be great to get it played, we thought for a while we wouldn’t get it played,” said Carlin.
“Even though we were telling the lads it was going ahead in the back of our minds we were wondering will it be played or not. Now it’s great to see a fixture down there and being able to work towards that. We haven’t been really talking to the players or obviously can’t meet up with them but we have been keeping in touch through WhatsApp.”
With priority being given to club football once the season gets up and running this July, preparations for the semi-showdown with the Dubs will be somewhat different than had the game gone ahead on the original date.
The management won’t have access to players until late summer although on the plus side the squad will have at least nine club games under their belts by that stage.
“Clubs have got priority with the players so we won’t have full access to them. The only good thing in that is that everybody will be playing football,” continued the Killyclogher man.
“Players are going to be on top of their game if injuries hold out to progress on to the next stage.
“During lockdown the players have been given gym programmes and things like that. It went well at the start but when you see no end in sight, no goal, like everything else that tapered off.
“But I have noticed the WhatsApp group has picked up and now the lads will be starting to buzz again.
“Players will be working hard with their clubs and it might give us an opportunity to go and see a few games, if we are allowed, when things get going to see who is playing well and who is pushing on.
“We have no solid plans yet because we have to be fair to the clubs and give them a good rattle and then we’ll pull everyone together, have a good chat and put our plans in place.
“We have to be careful as well, these lads will be playing Friday and Sunday and training during the week we can’t expect to load them any further. Paul and myself are very conscious of the player.
“If you have to serve too many masters then you end up serving none. The important thing is we will be trying to resurrect that team bond.”