Saturday 10 December 2016

I almost walked away from Tyrone - O'Neill

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

Tyrone and Omagh St. Enda's star Ronan O'Neill (Picture: Sportsfile)
Tyrone and Omagh St. Enda's star Ronan O'Neill (Picture: Sportsfile)

Emerging Tyrone star Ronan O'Neill has revealed he almost walked away from the Red Hand set-up after a frustrating 2015.

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O'Neill has been reborn this year, hitting 2-2 and playing all 70 minutes as Tyrone saw off Derry with ease in their Ulster SFC opener last weekend.

It's been quite the turnaround for the Omagh clubman. O'Neill didn't play in last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry and his lack of game time almost saw him quit the panel over the winter.

"I had to think long and hard in the off-season whether I wanted to be with Tyrone this season or if I was good enough to be there," O'Neill said as AIB announced their launch of second year sponsoring the football championship.

"And decided I gave it a right good lash in the off-season and see where that took me. I got a run in the McKenna Cup and it took off from there.

"I played well in a run of games and with the run of games, comes confidence and with confidence, you play better. I stated before that I was probably not up to the level of county standard and probably learned the hard way too, seeing a lot of different boys getting chances ahead of me.

"I just knuckled down this year, did a bit of hard work myself and lucky enough that I got a couple of chances at the start of the year."

O'Neill admitted surprise at Derry's willingness to cough up space in their defence but doesn't expect to see that again as the summer unfolds.

"It was quite surprising to see that Derry had maybe only one defender back but then again maybe that was to do with our game-plan. We had sucked them in and everyone had pushed forward. We know the next day there won't be so much space."

Irish Independent

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