GAA club game is more professional than ever, says Armagh Harps' Ultan Lennon
It was a towering second-half performance from Ultan Lennon, who finished with a personal haul of 1-5, that helped Armagh Harps see off holders Maghery in the county senior football championship final earlier this month.
Now, as the city club prepare to cross swords with Derrygonnelly in the Ulster club quarter-final at Enniskillen on Saturday, Lennon predicts that the GAA at club level will become even more professional.
The 28-year-old, who also plays for hometown soccer club Armagh City, believes that advances both in the preparation for games and the strategies deployed have reached unimagined levels.
"Gaelic football has changed dramatically over recent years at club level," declares Lennon.
"There is much greater emphasis on strength and conditioning, it is faster and the tactics are more convoluted.
"Dublin in particular have taken things to a new height and this has now filtered down to the club scene.
"It may still be regarded as an amateur part-time sport but in many ways it is becoming even more professional, even at club level."
Lennon played in three losing county finals since 2009 before Harps eventually turned the corner on Sunday week last and now he relishes the Ulster series.
"We certainly won't be taking Derrygonnelly lightly because the fact that they have won three Fermanagh titles on the trot speaks for itself," states Lennon.
"However, you have to go into every situation with a positive mindset. No matter how good your team is going or how badly your team is going you must always have belief.
"At the start of this year I am sure some of the Harps players would have admitted that they would not be capable of reaching the county final never mind winning it."