Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

All-Ireland Championship: Tyrone new kid Sean wants place on big stage

Tyrone’s Sean O’Neill hopes to copper-fasten his place in the team

Tyrone’s new kids on the block are relishing the chance to strut their stuff at Croke Park on Saturday.

And they will know tonight whether or not manager Mickey Harte is prepared to keep faith in their ability to help propel the side along to what would be a fourth All-Ireland title.

Peter Harte, man of the match in the qualifier win over Longford and outstanding in the victory over Armagh last Saturday, seems assured of selection to face Roscommon while versatile defender Sean O’Neill and willowy forward Kyle Coney are also in the frame for starting places.

While Harte has stamped his imprint on the Red Hands side lately, O’Neill and Coney have also seized the opportunity to exert strong pressure on more established players in the stampede for starting places.

O’Neill, who came close to grabbing a goal against Armagh, has been impressive at right-half-back having had to exercise considerable patience in his efforts to break into the side.

“In the past couple of games I got my chance and obviously I am now very keen to stay in the side,” explains O’Neill.

“It’s a question of biding your time and awaiting your opportunity. I was delighted to be involved in the game against Armagh. To win by six points was something that we would surely have gladly taken before the game.”

Right now, a plethora of All-Ireland winners such as Enda McGinley, Brian Dooher, Stephen O’Neill and Owen Mulligan are not quite automatic choices even though they are still invaluable squad members, and this has opened the door for players like O’Neill to make their pitch for recognition.

“Competition for places is very fierce and when you get into the side you have to play to a very high standard in order to stay there. The bar has been raised for everyone and it’s very hard to become established in this Tyrone team,” admits O’Neill.

The Dromore clubman has his feet firmly planted on the ground as he contemplates the confrontation with Roscommon.

“It would be foolish to look any further down the line than Saturday’s game. Our supporters might be looking past Roscommon and probably plotting our route to the All-Ireland Final. I suppose that comes with raised expectations over this last decade,” muses O’Neill.

However, he confirms that the Tyrone players are adopting a cautious approach as the All-Ireland series approaches a critical stage.

“We know that in a back door situation you have to deal with every eventuality and take it step by step and week by week. That means treating Roscommon with the respect they deserve. They have a couple of very handy forwards in Senan Kilbride and Donie Shine who are as good as there is out there,” insists O’Neill.

--

The prospect of Hawk-Eye score-detection technology being introduced at GAA venues has receded dramatically due to the high costs involved.

It is understood that it would cost £440,000 per year to deploy the system at all championship venues, making it highly unlikely that the GAA will proceed.

There are also doubts over whether the technology, which is used in tennis and cricket, could be reliably applied to Gaelic football and hurling goalposts.