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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Paddy Tierney

Peter Canavan says Tyrone should wait before calling up U20 stars to senior side

Peter Canavan believes it is too late in the season for Tyrone’s U20 All-Ireland winners, including his son Ruairi, to be drafted into the senior panel.

The Red Hands await their fate in Monday’s Qualifier draw following their Ulster SFC quarter-final loss to Derry in Omagh earlier this month.

The All-Ireland champions were comprehensively beaten by Rory Gallagher’s men - suffering a 1-18 to 0-10 defeat.

Read more: Tyrone U20 skipper Niall Devlin hails Red Hand heroes after All-Ireland victory

On Saturday evening, the U20s gave the county a welcome boost as they clinched the All-Ireland title with an impressive six-point victory over Kildare in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Ruairi Canavan, once again, claimed Man-of-the-Match honours as he scored 1-7, but plenty of others also impressed including captain Niall Devlin, Michael McGleenan, Steve Donaghy and Ciarán Bogue.

Canavan scored a goal inside the first 20 seconds and, although Kildare replied instantly with a major of their own via Daniel Lynam, Paul Devlin’s side ran out 1-20 to 1-14 winners.

The Tyrone senior management were all in attendance on Saturday, but Red Hand legend Canavan feels it is too late in the year to integrate some of the U20 players.

“Yeah, I would say it probably is at this stage. If the U20 competition had finished earlier on in the year, I’d say you’d expect a few boys to be brought in,” said Canavan.

“At this stage, with the Championship only a few weeks around the corner, Tyrone have a big panel of players there as it is, so I’d be surprised, at this late stage, if anybody was drafted in.

“Feargal (Logan) and Brian (Dooher) were here today (Saturday) so they are thinking further down the line I would imagine.”

Back when it was played as the U21 Championship, Canavan was part of the Tyrone management set-up alongside Logan and Dooher when the county last claimed an All-Ireland at the grade in 2015.

From that team, nine were members of the Tyrone senior side who won the Sam Maguire last September.

A two-time All-Ireland U21 winner himself in the early 90s, Canavan stressed that not all of the victorious squad will represent the seniors and urged them to enjoy their success.

“It proves that we have the stuff there that, when it comes to winning All-Irelands, they can still do it,” said Canavan.

Peter Canavan feels the Tyrone senior management should hold off on calling up the U20 All-Ireland winners, including his son Ruairi. (Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

“A long time ago, when Tyrone teams got to an All-Ireland (final), we were glad to be there.

“Now, when a lot of Tyrone teams get to All-Ireland finals, they expect to win it. There has been a sea change in mentality there and these lads will definitely push on.

“But, looking at previous minor and winning U21 teams, it is no guarantee that a lot of these lads will come through.

“Regardless of whether they come through or not, they’ll never forget today and they’ll never forget the games they played this year, winning an All-Ireland title. That’s a fabulous achievement in itself.

"They’ll never forget this for the rest of their lives. 30 years ago, I recall winning an All-Ireland U21 title and those were special days and those memories stay with you.”

Despite watching on as Darragh Canavan helped Tyrone defeat Mayo in Croke Park in last season’s All-Ireland decider, the former Footballer of the Year admitted it hasn’t gotten any easier watching his sons in action.

He also revealed he leaves the pre-match pep talks to the respective managers ahead of the big games.

“It is always nerve-racking when you are watching your own,” added Canavan.

Tyrone's Peter Canavan and his son Darragh Canavan celebrate last September's All-Ireland success over Mayo. On Saturday, the Tyrone legend watched another son win an All-Ireland title as Ruairi scored 1-7 in their U20 victory over Kildare. (©INPHO/James Crombie)

“It was a great team display from Tyrone from start to finish.

“We got off to a great start. Kildare did come back, but Tyrone finished the first half very strong and hit some great scores.

He added: “I don’t offer them many words of wisdom to be honest.

“They are quick to pick things up themselves and they have to learn as they go along, the same as I did.

“To be honest, the men that was giving the advice are the men on the line, Paul Devlin, Owen Mulligan and Dermy Carlin - boys I’ve soldiered with before.

“It's them they take their advice from and whatever they’ve been telling them has certainly been working.”

Read more: Tyrone vs Kildare score recap as the Red Hands clinch the All-Ireland U20 title

Read more: Rory Gallagher insists Derry are in it for the here and now after Monaghan scalp

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