Tyrone need bench strength to progress: Seanie O’Donnell

Clare defender Alan Sweeney tackles as Seanie O'Donnell goes on the attack for Tyrone. Picture: Seamus Loughran
Clare defender Alan Sweeney tackles as Seanie O'Donnell goes on the attack for Tyrone. Picture: Seamus Loughran (seamus loughran)

Tyrone will need a full squad of able-bodied and battle-ready footballers if they’re going to make progress through the All-Ireland series, according to Seanie O’Donnell.

Energy from the bench will be a key component in the weeks ahead as the Red Hands seek to build a championship challenge.

At O’Neills Healy Park last Sunday, they introduced quality players such as Peter Harte, Conn Kilpatrick, Cathal McShane, Cormac Quinn and U20 Footballer of the Year Shea O’Hare to drive for home in the closing stages of their clash with Clare.

“That’s a given, you’re going to need 20 players to win a game, especially nowadays when teams run the bench, and the influence a bench can have,” said O’Donnell.

“We had massive energy coming on there, Petey (Harte) and even Shea O’Hare coming in there and fitting in, it’s a credit for him.

“Now it’s just a case of keeping the heads down and everybody just fighting for a place.”

Tyrone vs Clare   3    .jpg
Tyrone vs Clare 3 .jpg (seamus loughran)

Second half slumps have been a worrying feature of Red Hand performances this season, a trend that must not be allowed to continue, according to the Trillick clubman.

“We’re not going to get away with just a half performance. It’s something we can look at, but two weeks is a short gap to nit-pick everything, so we just have to look at that, really focus on it in training and get back at it now.

“We didn’t take the foot off in the last fifteen minutes (against Clare) and it really helped us, boys chipping away at scores.

“That’s another plus we can take out of it, but there are many negatives too.”

A first win in three championship outings raised flagging confidence levels ahead of another crunch tie against Cork on the weekend after next.

“We want to start building on that now and bring it in to the next game against Cork. They had a really strong performance against Donegal, so now we’re all focused on that.

“We kept chipping the scores over in the second half, and you can’t take the foot off. As soon as you take the foot of, you’re in bother, teams start to get back on you.

“We knew after the Donegal game, the first time, we maybe built up a lead and started to take the foot off it a bit, and teams push back in.

“So we knew we just couldn’t afford to do that any more, and we tried to push on and get more scores, as many scores as we can and finish games out.”

Cork’s victory over Donegal blew the group wide open, and gong into the final round of games, any one of three teams can claim top spot and go straight through to the All-Ireland quarter-finals, avoiding the fixtures congestion associated with the preliminary quarter-finals.

“It was a brilliant performance, I just saw a few highlights of it, and the way they took the goals was brilliant.

“We have our work cut out for us, but we’ll look forward to it.”