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Belfast Live
Paddy Tierney

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

Tyrone U20 captain Niall Devlin hopes their All-Ireland victory over Kildare has brought smiles back to the faces of the Red Hand faithful.

Earlier this month, the Tyrone seniors bowed out of the Ulster Championship following a shock 11-point loss to Derry in Healy Park.

The manner in which they relinquished their grip on the Anglo Celt Cup resulted in a lot of soul searching for Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher’s men ahead of their forthcoming Qualifier campaign.

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

Yet, the U20 success on Saturday proves that there remains an abundance of emerging talent within the county.

“I know the seniors were criticised for their performance against Derry. Hopefully, we gave them a lift after the Kerry game last week and we wish them all the best for the rest of the year,” said Devlin.

“Thankfully, the smiles are back of the faces of Tyrone fans and long may it continue.

“It is unbelievable to win an All-Ireland title – words can’t even describe it.

“The way that game went – it was one of the best games we’ve played in. That performance showed we were rightful All-Ireland champions on the day.”

As he has done throughout their campaign, Ruairi Canavan demonstrated why he is one of the brightest prospects in the county as he hit 1-7 in another Man-of-the-Match performance.

However, he’d plenty of rivals for that accolade, including Devlin, who kicked three superb points from play.

Steve Donaghy and Michael Rafferty were also excellent in defence while Ciarán Bogue, Michael McGleenan and Conor Cush also impressed.

“It is always good to get on the scoresheet,” reflected Devlin.

“Those boys are brilliant forwards – I’ve never seen a forward line like it.

“Any one of them can cause havoc for a defensive on their day – they are a great group of lads.

“We are all best friends on and off the pitch and I think that shows on the pitch.”

Tyrone got off to the perfect start when Ciarán Bogue and Conor Cush combined to set up Canavan for a goal after barely 20 seconds.

Tyrone captain Niall Devlin in action against Kildare's Eoin Bagnall. (©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan)

Kildare struck back instantly at the other end with Daniel Lynam palming into the net and the Lilywhites briefly led midway through the first half.

Tyrone gained the upper hand approaching half-time and led by four at the interval and were able to close the game out in the second half.

“In the first half, we knew when we came in at half-time we didn’t play well,” added the Coalisland native.

“We came out in the second half and got going and, thankfully, got on the front foot. The effort from the lads was first class.

“It was end-to-end in the first half. We probably switched off for their goal. You are at your weakest when you score a goal.

“We came back towards the end of the first half and we were able to get over the line.”

Read more: Niall Morgan insists Tyrone's All-Ireland success last season was no fluke

Read more: Female referees get the same abuse as males says leading GAA official

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