Sunday 30 April 2017

Peter Donnelly to give Tyrone 'advantage' - Ronan O'Neill

Tyrone star Ronan O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Tyrone star Ronan O'Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Tyrone star Ronan O'Neill believes that Peter Donnelly's inside knowledge of the Cavan football set-up will be a "big advantage" to the Red Hand in the build-up to Sunday's Ulster semi-final with the Breffni men.

However, he warns they will still have a job on their hands to win in Clones and progress to a provincial decider.

Donnelly worked as a coach with Cavan before moving back home to take up a role with his native Tyrone as they look to progress to an Ulster final for the first time since 2010.

"Yes, it's a big advantage for us," O'Neill said. "But Pete can only tell us so much, we have to go out onto the pitch across the white line and do it.

"Yes, he'll give us the strengths and weaknesses of all their players, but when we go out onto the pitch we have to perform to our best."

After almost quitting inter-county football in the close season, O'Neill has emerged as one of Tyrone's star performers so far this term. And he says he is at an age now where he has to assume more responsibility.

Bracket

"I'm 23 now, so I am at that age where I am in the middle bracket of players. I can't be looking to the older players now, I am probably one of those players myself," he said.

"As the years go on, you have to take the mantle on yourself. Sean Cavanagh might be in his last year and we can't always look to Sean and the likes of Mattie Donnelly all the time. Others need to step up. It is good to have that mantle of always stepping up when you need to."

Tyrone remain unbeaten in 2016 and O'Neill agrees that expectation is starting to build again in the county.

"It comes from all those great teams from 2003, '05 and '08, people are probably looking at us to emulate them and take on the mantle. That is why you play Gaelic football and that is why you want to play for Tyrone because you want to be the best and to be the best you have to play the best. Expectation - it's just a word in my opinion."

Irish Independent

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