U20 stars can inspire further success after phenomenal season for Tyrone

It has been quite the 12 months for Tyrone football.

The 2021 season was a remarkable one for Tyrone culminating in winning the Sam Maguire Cup for the first time since 2008. And yet it could have turned out so differently. 

Cast your mind back to July of last year when Tyrone were preparing for their Ulster Final clash with Monaghan after a brilliant display against Donegal. And then disaster struck with joint manager Feargal Logan and four of their key men ruled out due to COVID-19. 

But perhaps it was their absence that motivated the team and powered them during the game. They dominated the opening periods with strong performances from key forwards like Mattie Donnelly and Darren McCurry. However, it was their defence that drove them forward with Padraig Hampsey and Ronan McNamee quelling the Monaghan threat.

Provincial finals are not easily won and it took all of Tyrone’s match-day panel to power them across the line. One of the substitutes brought on in the one-point win was Darragh Canavan, son of Tyrone great, Peter. 

It’s a name that has been synonymous with success in the county with Peter winning two All-Ireland titles, five Ulster Championships and eight All-Star awards during his time. And Darragh carried on that success in 2021. 

In 2022, however, another Canavan has burst onto the scene for Tyrone. Younger son Ruairí was outstanding for the Red Hand during the EirGrid Football U20 Championship this year and powered his team to All-Ireland glory. While a Canavan dominating games against the likes of Kerry is not an unusual sight for Tyrone fans, Ruarí is carving out his own path and has rightfully made a name for himself at this grade. 

Tyrone have struggled at this grade in recent years having not been in an All-Ireland final since they lifted the trophy in 2015. But bolstered by their senior success, Paul Devlin’s side had a point to prove in 2022.

Powered by Canavan, the county overcame very tough competition, defeating Down, Donegal, Cavan, Kerry and Kildare on their way to glory. The Errigal Ciarán club man was pivotal throughout, scoring 1-34 in total, including 1-7 in the All-Ireland decider. That is an average of just under 7.5 points per game.

Therefore it came as no surprise when he was named both the Player of the Province for Ulster and the EirGrid U20 Player of the Year. 

Considering the senior side have suffered a rocky start to their Sam Maguire defence, it’s time for the roles to reverse and the underage success to inspire the older generation. However the remainder of the 2022 season goes for Tyrone, with players such as Canavan and co. to power them forward, the future looks bright for the Red Hand. 

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EirGrid are the Official Sponsors of the GAA Football U20 All-Ireland Championship. EirGrid, Ireland’s grid operator, is charged with delivering a cleaner energy future for Ireland and has been the Official U20 sponsor for eight years.

Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.