Connor McAliskey and Ryan McKenna come in for Tyrone
Mayo unchanged for semi-final as Robert Hennelly retains place in goal
“Work-rate is another big thing I have worked on, getting fitter each year, doing more work in the off season to make sure that I get fitter each year.”
With so many talented under-age players emerging in the county Donnelly felt that his chance of making the panel in his mid-20s was receding.
“Och, I suppose I did, yeah. I headed off to Australia in ‘07 and I thought my chance was gone.
“I am only focused now on the here and now and aiming to get to my first All-Ireland final. I was there at the three finals, ’03, ’05 and ’08. I was there as a supporter.”
His own role on the team has evolved to the point that he is in typical Tyrone style capable of playing anywhere and this year he has developed the deeper-lying instincts of the modern half forward.
“I suppose every year is different. In 2010 I was playing as an inside full-forward, last year I was playing out on the 40, this year I have been playing deeper.
“The lesson we learned from Donegal is that you have to avoid conceding goals and the forward line is having to defend deeper but whatever role you are given on the team, you have to do that because it is a team game and everyone has a particular role. I am filling my role which hopefully will get us over the line.”
TYRONE (SFC v Mayo): P McConnell; R McKenna, C Clarke, C McCarron; C McGinley, P Harte, C Gormley; C Cavanagh, S Cavanagh; Matthew Donnelly, Mark Donnelly, J McMahon; D McCurry, S O’Neill, C McAliskey. Subs: M O’Neill, D Carlin, A Cassidy, K Coney, K Gallagher, C Grugan, P Kane, J Lafferty, D McBride, T McCann, A McCrory.
MAYO: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, C Barrett; L Keegan, D Vaughan, C Boyle; A O’Shea, S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, K Higgins, A Dillon; C O’Connor, A Freeman, A Moran.
WEXFORD (U21HC v Antrim): B Murphy; G Foley, C Goff, E Conroy; Andrew Kenny, S O’Gorman, D O’Leary; L Chin, Aaron Kenny; J Guiney, I Byrne, G Moore; C McDonald, B Carton, R Clarke.