GAA Football

Tyrone need to find killer instinct - Ronan O'Neill

Ronan O’Neill says Tyrone need to concentrate on killing teams off after letting a lead slip against Armagh at the weekend      Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
Francis Mooney

TYRONE failed to match the burning desire shown by an Armagh side fighting for survival.

That’s the verdict of Ronan O’Neill, who admitted that the Red Hands fell victim to the frenzied desperation of a team on the brink.

The Red Hands looked comfortable, leading by four points with a couple of minutes to play at Healy Park, but Niall Grimley’s late goal earned the relegation-threatened visitors a precious point, and gave them a fighting chance of avoiding the drop.

“We started out that we wanted to win the game as much as Armagh did. But they probably had a greater desire considering the position that they were in in the league,” said O’Neill, who once again top-scored for Tyrone with five points in the 0-13 to 1-10 draw.

“We knew that they would come out all guns blazing and a night like that anything could have happened and the conditions played their part. They had a great desire to get something out of the game.”

While he accepted that the Orchard men wanted it more, the Omagh man rejected suggestions that Tyrone, already promoted prior to Saturday evening’s derby tie, allowed complacency to set in.

“There’s no question of us being complacent. Not a hope. We treated this game exactly the same as every other game that we’ve played so far. We wanted to win and keep our unbeaten record. Thankfully we did and it could have been a lot worse because we could have lost. Complacency wasn’t an issue.

“Before the game you could see the position that both teams were in and Armagh obviously needed the points. A point to them was a massive boost. We treated this game the same as any other, we went out to win and unfortunately we didn’t.

“It wasn’t a great day for football and we tried to adapt to the conditions. It’s better getting those days now than later in the year.”

Not for the first time this season, Tyrone have established dominant positions, only to allow opponents play their way back into contention.

Their inability to kill off games in a ruthless fashion is a worrying failing. They have, up until now, managed to hold on and avoid defeat, but last weekend’s late drama came too close for comfort.

“I suppose it’s a recurring theme throughout the League that we’re not killing off games. It’s probably something that we need to address now rather than later on in the season and it’s something that we’ll need to improve on.

“The whole second half we were in a commanding lead in every sense and our standards probably slipped. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking back at the free kick that I missed that would have put us four clear. But you take these things on the chin and move on, address them in training and hopefully the next day we’ll get them right.”

Nevertheless, Healy Park has become something of a fortress once again, and Tyrone have completed their 2016 schedule at the Omagh venue unbeaten.

“It’s true that we mightn’t play in Healy Park for the rest of the year. Thankfully, we’ve kept our unbeaten record here so far this season. But as I said there’s bigger games down the line and hopefully we’ll learn from this game.”

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GAA Football