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No better feeling than winning club games: O'Neill


By Declan Bogue

The last time he was in a county final, it couldn't have been more dramatic.

Omagh were trailing a stubborn Carrickmore team in 2014 by two points until a long delivery caught out the Carmen defence and Ronan O'Neill latched onto the ball.

Carrickmore goalkeeper Plunkett McCallan advanced and threatened to swallow O'Neill up, but it resembled a bear pawing at a leaping salmon as O'Neill slotted the ball to a gaping net and ensured the O'Neill Cup would be staying the night in Healy Park.

Every so often, O'Neill takes out the final DVD and relives that most special of days.

It had been a long time coming and Omagh actually progressed to the Ulster final that year only to lose to Slaughtneil in cruel circumstances.

While the Derry club have dominated their own backyard, it has taken Omagh three years to reach the showpiece day again.

"It's a game we left behind us," says O'Neill now of that provincial final.

"And look at what Slaughtneil have done since. You have regrets in life and regrets in football and that's one within this team; that we left that game behind us.

"But you can't take away from Slaughtneil, look at what they have done, they have went on and been a fantastic example for every team and every club to strive towards."

This season, Omagh have put together an impressive run. Ardboe, Greencastle and Trillick have been put to the sword but now they face an Errigal Ciaran team that hold something of an Indian Sign over them.

Winning tight games has come as tonic to O'Neill after the humiliation suffered by Tyrone in the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Dublin in August.

"It was a massive disappointment for the county and it is very hard to switch your attention straight away from county to club football.

"Then again it is nice to have those games to get the head focused too," he explains.

"You can't beat winning games with your club for the buzz it gives you, the whole club itself was out after the game on Saturday night with people congratulating us. Just what it brings, the little ones coming up to you after games."

Meanwhile, Errigal captain Cathal McRory has pointed out how the Dunmoyle club reached a fork in the road last year that pushed them in a positive direction.

"This time last year we had a game against Strabane which we had to win to qualify for the last four, and Strabane beat us.

"So we had to look at ourselves, have a look at where we were going.

"We did serious work to get from where we were then to now. We're top of the league, but league stands for nothing, this is Championship, and we want to take one more step and win it."

Errigal Ciaran

Omagh St Enda's

Tyrone SFC Final:

Healy Park, Omagh, Sunday, 4.00pm

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