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18th Apr 2023

“I was gobsmacked to see Mattie Donnelly coming off the pitch” – Coney mystified by Tyrone substitution

Niall McIntyre

Former Tyrone player Kyle Coney was gobsmacked by the decision to take Mattie Donnelly off with ten minutes to go in Sunday’s Ulster quarter final.

The game was fraught with tension at that stage, well in the melting pot as Monaghan led by one and Coney couldn’t believe what he was seeing when Ruairi Canavan ran onto replace Mattie Donnelly, of all people.

The Trillick ace is Tyrone’s talisman and, on the day, he was at the top of his game.

Donnelly had three points scored but, as he so often does, he was also setting up scores, popping passes and, acting the fulcrum, generally, of his side’s attack.

At 32, Donnelly is one of the more experienced players in this Tyrone team, he’s been there, done that, and Coney felt they could have done with him in the closing stages of this game.

“I’ll be honest, I was gobsmacked to see Mattie Donnelly coming off the pitch,” said Coney on The GAA Hour.

“The camera panned to him at one stage, not long after he’d been taken off, and he was standing against the steel stanchion on the subs bench, and he didn’t look like somebody who was injured or out on his feet.

“That was the experience that Tyrone were going to need in the late, dying moments of that game. And I was disappointed to see him coming off the pitch.”

Monaghan went onto win the game thanks to a Ryan O’Toole wondergoal and The GAA Hour’s Lee Costello, a Tyrone man, was also surprised by the decision.

“Mattie Donnelly has been in top form this season.

“He’s looked like the vintage Mattie Donnelly, pre-serious injuries and three points from play from full forward, he’s the leader, the fulcrum of that full forward line.

“He dragged us over the line when we played Kerry that time in the League. We need him on.”

On the subject of substitutions, Monaghan’s Vinny Corey also made a difficult call when he took off debutante Thomas McPhillips four minutes before half-time. Coney hopes that it won’t affect the youngster’s confidence but adds that, once the team wins, such decisions are justified.

“It’s a tough decision to make. The young lad was getting a tough time, with the two lads inside McCurry and Canavan on fire. Today, the decision is justified, but look hopefully it doesn’t effect the young lad’s confidence.

You can listen to the full Donnelly discussion right here from 8.30.

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