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Ronan O'Neill: Tyrone must raise bar to seal treble


Top man: Ronan O'Neill with his Ulster Writers' trophy

Top man: Ronan O'Neill with his Ulster Writers' trophy

Top man: Ronan O'Neill with his Ulster Writers' trophy

Sharpshooter Ronan O'Neill is urging Tyrone to atone for what he feels were sub-standard performances in their last two league games when they meet Cavan in the forthcoming Division Two final at Croke Park.

Draws against Fermanagh and Armagh marked a blip in the high level of consistency that Mickey Harte's side had attained but O'Neill, a revelation since moving into the full-forward line on his return from injury, believes the team can regain momentum at Headquarters.

His form has already brought the 23-year-old Omagh St Enda's clubman the latest Quinn Building Products Ulster GAA Writers' Association monthly merit award but personal kudos are far from O'Neill's mind as he targets what could prove to be a third helping of silverware for his county since December.

Tyrone, having already pocketed the O'Fiaich and McKenna Cups, now have bigger fish to fry and O'Neill, who has scored 1-23 in the league, believes the team can build on their earlier solid performances when they confront upbeat Cavan.

"There is no doubt that we have to do a lot better than we did in our last couple of games if we are to beat Cavan," admitted O'Neill. "We have to be able to match their momentum and give a good account of ourselves. We want to come away victorious."

Tyrone, of course, are no strangers to Croke Park and O'Neill reckons that the familiarity which the majority of the players in his side enjoy with the venue will stand to them when the heat is on.

"Tyrone love playing in Croke Park. It has always been the case under Mickey Harte that when the players get there they invariably relish the challenge and I have no doubt that it won't be any different on this occasion," insisted O'Neill.

"We are looking forward to it. When you get this far you want to go the extra mile and that's what we hope to do."

Like his colleagues, O'Neill feels that a second victory over Cavan - they beat them in the earlier stages of the league - will help to send Tyrone into the Ulster Championship in good heart.

They are due to meet Derry in the quarter-finals at Celtic Park and this will be the fifth occasion the sides will have crossed swords since mid-December.

"Tyrone have been fortunate to win the four matches played to date but this will count for nothing in a Championship context" added O'Neill.

"We don't want to be caught on the hop. We are certainly under no illusions - we have been gearing towards the Ulster Championship all year but we know that going to Derry represents an enormous task for all of us."

Belfast Telegraph