Granted, a Canavan torturing Kerry wasn’t any act of great originality. But the extent to which young Ruairí, the latest prince of the regal Tyrone clan, did so on Sunday was enough to make all perk up and take notice.
sparkling display of movement and accuracy, strikingly reminiscent of both father Peter and older sibling Darragh, put Tyrone into Saturday’s EirGrid All-Ireland U-20FC final.
“It was a nice one,” Ruairí acknowledged afterwards upon receipt of the official TG4 Man of the Match award. “We lifted it from the Cavan game, we knew it wasn’t going to be near good enough and thank God everybody raised their game and got the job done.”
For Kerry, there was a dark irony in the fact that the man who couldn’t miss (scoring 0-8; 3f and 1m) hit the upright in the 58th minute and Tyrone scored their goal from the rebound to lead for the first time.
“I was very happy to see (Ciarán Bogue, the goalscorer) there, I should have scored, but he’s been doing that all year. We couldn’t have had a better man there to pounce on the situation, he did it perfectly.”
Tyrone’s timing was immaculate. They never led until that moment and at one stage, early in the second half, trailed by four and looked like they might be overrun.
“We haven’t made it easy for ourselves all year,” Canavan acknowledged. “Maybe not comfortable, but we knew how to deal with that situation and how to go about it. The defenders dealt with it really well, they didn’t let the heads drop, and we started getting the ball in a bit quicker.”
They face Kildare on Saturday in Carrick-on-Shannon (5.0) after pleas from both managers to host the game in Croke Park were rejected by the GAA’s CCCC. The counties have had contrasting experiences turning underage potential into senior success. Tyrone have won three of the last four Ulster titles but haven’t won the All-Ireland since 2015, when the competition was still an U-21 grade.