GAA Football

Tyrone attacker Ronan O'Neill proving constant threat

Tyrone's Ronan O'Neill and Peter Harte (Number 7) in action against Cork on July 7 2018
Francis Mooney

A strong bench with a clearly defined mission statement has played a vital role in shaping Tyrone's championship journey.

The template, precise and definitive, has proven effective through a character-building Qualifier series and into the Super 8s, with the extended squad utilised to the full by manager Mickey Harte.

The personnel may vary in the midst of contrasting circumstances, but one constant has been the positive impact made by attacker Ronan O'Neill.

The Omagh man has joined the action in every single game, making a difference with his vision, movement, creativity and finishing.

And he has grown to appreciate and enjoy his cameo role, which once again delighted Red Hand fans as he showed delightful touches in the latter stages of last weekend's demolition of Roscommon at Croke Park, setting up two goals.

“I'm sorta getting used to this role, not that you want to have it, you want to be playing as well,” he said.

“When you come in, you have to do your bit, and do what you can to get the team over the line.

“That's the nature of the game, it's a team game, it's a 20-man game at the end of the day, and you have to play your role. You come in when the opportunity arises.”

A shift in emphasis towards a more attack-minded strategy has served Tyrone well this summer.

Huge scoring returns in the last few games have taken them to the top of the charts, and talented attackers are thriving in a positive environment.

They had 13 different players on the score-sheet in the rout of the Rossies.

“I suppose from last year we had to evolve a wee bit, and this year we set our stall out to be a bit more attacking.

“We're also being careful to be safe at the back too. We don't want to be known as an attacking team and then conceding 2-18 or whatever every game.

“The boys have been playing well up front and they have shipped some heavy scores the last couple of games, which is a good sign going into the next game.”

Saturday's mouth-watering clash with the All-Ireland champions will be Tyrone's first ever championship clash with Dublin on home soil, and for O'Neill, there's an even deeper familiarity, as Healy Park is also the Omagh St Enda's man's club pitch.

“Any time the All-Ireland champions come to your back yard, it's a fantastic occasion.

“And them coming out of Croke park will be a good occasion too, so we're looking forward to it, and hopefully we can improve on last year.

“And we want to improve on that score-line, that we conceded to Roscommon, because if we concede that against Dublin, we probably wouldn't get as close to them.

“So as long as we get our mentality and attitude right from last year, it will be set up well for a good game.

“It's not every day you get to play an All-Ireland quarter-final on your home ground, so no matter what role you get, I'll be relishing the occasion, and hopefully I'll get on and make an impact for the team.”

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