THE towering Owen O’Neill is a player that typifies the character and spirit within the St Patrick’s, Dungannon squad as they have defied the odds on more than one occasion this season to get their school back in a Danske Bank MacRory Cup final.
The grandson of Tyrone legend Jody O’Neill, Owen lined out at full-back in their penalty shoot-out win over Carrickmacross in the quarter-final and was deployed at midfield in their one-point victory over St Joseph’s, Donaghmore in the semis. But he is happy to do what it takes.
“It’s all for the team, it’s not about yourself, you go out and play wherever you are asked for the team,” said Owen.
“If you are told to do a job you go out and do it, that’s what its all about.”
Last year’s heartache of losing out to Holy Trinity in the semi-final has only served to drive him and his team-mates on this year and he is now only 60-odd minutes away from realising a dream.
“I was part of the squad last season that lost out in the semi-final and it was great to make it through this year and the final goal is to win and get our hands on the MacRory Cup,” he said.
“We had a number of lads who were involved 12 months ago and we didn’t want to go through that loss again, especially at the same venue. But this time around there was even more heart and drive and we managed to push through and hopefully that will be the case in the final as well.
“For a school the size of the Academy you always need players coming along and pushing to get through to finals on a more regular basis and hopefully that will be the case once we leave as well.
“From first year you always look up to the boys who are playing MacRory Cup football and it’s surreal that we are now going to get an opportunity to play in the final. None of us have ever experienced the build-up to the final within the school and we will enjoy that but we know that we have a job to do.”
Omagh CBS stand in the way of a first MacRory Cup title since 2009 and Owen knows that they will have to be at their best against the holders but they are determined to give it everything that they have.
“Any side that gets to a final has put in a good shift and obviously they have the experience from last year to call on but maybe we may have that little bit more hunger as some of them boys have a medal so we are going to be giving it everything that we have,” he said.
“At this stage the hard training has been done and it’s a matter of sitting down and looking at Omagh. It’s all fine-tuning from here and making sure we get things right on the day, especially the basics.”