Davy Harte believes he has lost ground to make up when Tyrone confront Monaghan in the Ulster football championship final at Clones on Sunday.
The 27-year-old schoolteacher was not in the starting line-up for the semi-final win over Down because of injury but aims to have an input against Seamus McEnaney’s warriors in what is being viewed as one of the most open provincial deciders for many years.
Davy, an ever-present at right-half-back in the Tyrone side since 2005 when he won the first of his two All Ireland medals to date, is anxious to add to his personal honours haul.
But he is even more focussed on delivering a second successive provincial title for manager Mickey Harte.
“We have been focussed on this for a while,” says Davy.
“Players like Sean Cavanagh, Brian Dooher, Conor Gormley and some others are ahead of me in terms of the honours they have won but I want to continue to be part of a winning Tyrone side.
“We have built up momentum through the Ulster Championship and although Monaghan got big wins over Armagh and Fermanagh, we are confident enough that we can take things to the next level on Sunday.”
As well as being an accomplished defender he is also noted for picking off invaluable points during the course of games.
“I like to go forward when I can,” admaits Davy.
“But I would imagine that we will be preoccupied with defence against Monaghan, especially in the opening stages.
“They have shown that they have some very sharp forwards who can score from almost anywhere so closing them down will be a big job.”
Alongside Conor Gormley and Philip Jordan, Harte has formed one of the most potent half-back lines in the country over the course of the past five years.
And it’s a unit that has remained relatively unchanged — certainly in the context of the championship — within the Tyrone line-up.
Davy, one of the quietest players in the side and someone who gets on with his job in an unfussed manner, nonetheless remains fiercely ambitious.
“Naturally having a couple of All Ireland medals is a big plus for me, says Davy, who helped coach Armagh’s St Patrick’s Grammar side in this year’s Ulster Colleges MacRory Cup competition in tandem with his Tyrone colleagues Mattie McGleenan and John Devine.
“But like all the other Tyrone players I would like to win another.
“However, I know this certainly won’t be easy. Nonetheless we want to give it our best shot this year.
“You don’t get too many bites at the cherry altogether and while we have been lucky enough to have done well in the past this is no guarantee that things will go right for us on Sunday particularly as Monaghan will have home advantage in a sense.”