We are trying to be more ruthless: Armagh ace Oisin O'Neill
OISIN O’Neill says Armagh are trying to work on being more ruthless this season – and the competition for forward places has sharpened everyone’s focus.
O’Neill was at the forefront of the Orchard attack in Saturday night’s 13-point drubbing of Cavan, bagging three points from play, but is fully aware no place in the starting line-up is guaranteed.
Andy Murnin and Jamie Clarke have still to come into the frame with the latter likely to be involved against Laois next Saturday night having sat out last weekend’s opening day win.
Murnin is still a few games away from action while Jemar Hall and Jarlath Og Burns were late substitutes against Cavan and will be pushing for more game-time now.
O’Neill and brother Rian caught the eye last Saturday night as did captain Stefan Campbell and rookie corner-forward Conor Turbitt.
“Competition is serious because we’ve still Jamie [Clarke] and Andy Murnin to come back,” said the Crossmaglen man.
“But the boys that played against Cavan really put their hand up and showed what they’re capable of.”
On Turbitt’s sparkling League debut during which he hit 1-6 – 1-5 from play – O’Neill believes it’s all about getting the right supply of ball into the Clann Eireann ace.
“Conor is a great forward. He has lovely feet, we see that all the time in training. It’s about getting him in the positions where he is able to do the damage.”
Last season, Armagh drew their opening two Division Two games with Kildare and Clare before slipping to defeat against Meath. But they consolidated their position with wins over Tipperary and Fermanagh.
“We’ve talked about being a lot more ruthless,” O’Neill added.
“We threw away a lot of good positions, a lot of good leads last year so we’ve had a big focus over the last couple of weeks about being more ruthless and seeing games out and controlling games.
“We had a good win against Cavan, but that’s no good next week if we don’t do the same again. It’s about being ruthless.
“We just play to our strengths. We’ve a lot of really good ball players in our team and moving the ball with the foot doesn’t give defences time to set up and it gives Rian [O’Neill], ‘Turbo’ and Jason [Duffy] the chance to get scores on the board.”
Armagh mixed up their attacking play against Cavan and weren’t afraid to kick the ball into their inside forward line, but despite their impressive directness only one of their scores came from an advanced ‘mark’, courtesy of a brilliant early take from Turbitt.
“You don’t notice it [advanced ‘mark’] too much," O'Neill said.
“I suppose it rewards the good kick pass. Growing up that’s something you were always taught, especially in Armagh - look to kick the ball, so I suppose it rewards that but I can see it having more trouble in trying to implement it at club level.”
Now in his third season with the Armagh seniors, O’Neill described 2019 as “frustrating” but hopes to pin down one of the six starting slots as they head for Portlaoise next weekend.