HomeFootballJoey Clarke delighted to make his mark in Tyrone’s All-Ireland success

Joey Clarke delighted to make his mark in Tyrone’s All-Ireland success

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Joey Clarke made defending look like a joyous pursuit as he tracked tirelessly up and down O’Moore Park.

A corner back with a turbo-charged engine, he popped up just about everywhere, and grabbed the goal that set Tyrone on their way to a second All-Ireland U20 triumph in three seasons.

Blocks and tackles, sprints and overlaps, it’s all in a days work for the Donaghmore talent.

But he insisted it wouldn’t have been possible but for the willingness of a united, 15-strong force to put in the graft.

“It was roasting, so it was definitely tough, but I thought we put in a good shift, and us defenders like to get up the pitch too at times and help out the forwards.

“But they were getting back and causing turnovers as well, so we like to work well as a unit,” he said.



Clarke is Tyrone’s specialist man-marker, entrusted with the job of curbing Kerry ace Cormac Dillon.

Dillon did nail four points from play, but more often than not, was thwarted by the man tasked with closing him down.

“Somebody is going to have to do the man-marking, but it’s good that I’m getting to pit myself against the best forwards in the country.

“He put it up to me, he kicked a few good scores, so there’s always room for improvement.”

Tyrone’s pacey defenders all have a licence to get forward, and Clarke’s primal instinct is to avail of every opportunity to raid.

It was in the 14th minute that he got on the end of an incisive move to fire home his side’s only goal of the decider.

“They were setting up a high line, so there were gaps, if we went in ones and twos and threes, and eventually the ball broke down and Ronan Cassidy gave me a good fist pass, just broke the line.

“So I was through, I couldn’t believe my luck, and I got a bit of luck with the deflection and it went into the bottom corner.”

It all came gloriously together on the day for Tyrone, but the construction of that 60 minutes of scintillating attacking football was the product of months of dedication and devotion to a singular cause. He hailed the impact of the coaching team in piecing together the plan.

“The work those lads have put in with us on the training field is brilliant.

“Our first session was on the nineteenth of October, so that’s seven months, and they have put in serious work with us, on different scenarios, so we’re comfortable whenever we come up against those.”

Tyrone players celebrate with the trophy after their win over Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 Football Championship final at Portlaoise on Sunday              Picture: Oliver McVeigh
Tyrone players celebrate with the trophy after their win over Kerry in the All-Ireland U20 Football Championship final at Portlaoise on Sunday Picture: Oliver McVeigh

Like every single one of his team-mates, Clarke fosters and ambition to go on and represent his county at senior level, but first he has another season with the U20s to look forward to.

“Yes, definitely, that’s everyone’s goal, to get up with the Tyrone seniors, but a lot of work has to be put in before that.”

The future looks bright not just for the county, but for the Donaghmore club, which had no fewer than seven players in Tyrone’s All-Ireland winning U20 squad.

“It’s class having that many boys in the panel. We had a great minor team, and a lot of the boys have pushed on now, and hopefully we can push on again with the seniors and keep going.”

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