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Conor Meyler: I'll do the dirty work to help Tyrone reach All-Ireland final

 

Relishing it: Conor Meyler is eager to help Tyrone return to the All-Ireland decider
Relishing it: Conor Meyler is eager to help Tyrone return to the All-Ireland decider
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Conor Meyler is prepared to get his hands dirty if it means helping Tyrone reach the All-Ireland football final.

The 24-year-old utility player may have been no stranger to injury, and indeed heartbreak, in the past, but right now he is preparing for what he sees as the biggest challenge of his career to date.

Since being restored to the side for the All-Ireland qualifier against Longford, Meyler has usually found himself deployed in striving to counteract the contribution of the opposition player that manager Mickey Harte believes might offer the biggest threat to his side.

While the details of Tyrone's strategy in this respect must understandably remain under wraps, Harte can take considerable encouragement from the fact that the enthusiastic Meyler is willing and able to put his body on the line for the cause.

"I am certainly more than happy to be playing, even though I might be fulfilling what is maybe not the most glamorous role," smiled Omagh St Enda's clubman Meyler.

"It involves doing a lot of dirty work up and down the field. This is particularly so in relation to the middle third of the pitch, and you maybe don't get the plaudits or indeed the scores that other players might get.

"But any day you get the chance to pull on a Tyrone jersey you are happy. Obviously the dream is to be standing in the middle of Croke Park on All-Ireland final day and you are victorious, so whatever role I can play in trying to achieve that I am more than happy to undertake it.

"I am just glad that Mickey Harte has been prepared to entrust me with a role that he sees as important. Whatever I can do for the team, I will do to the best of my ability."

Known for his fastidious preparations for every game in which he plays, Meyler has been doing his homework on Kerry and is in no doubt about the enormity of the challenge that the Red Hands will face in Sunday's semi-final.

His energy, commitment and resilience have been very much in evidence of late and his strong focus on linking defence and attack has been instrumental in carrying the Red Hands through the qualifiers and Super8s.

"While we may be seen as maybe having an edge in experience, it has to be said that Kerry are playing without fear," insisted Meyler.

"And that's something which could benefit them. They have a looser strategy and it's hard to know what some of them are going to do next, so you can set up whatever way you want but at the same time you have to be ready for anything.

"Even the manner in which they can transfer the ball into their forward line is class. I don't think experience might be the reason for one team winning or not. A lot of it will come down to what happens on the day."

Kerry remained unbeaten in the Super8s in overcoming Mayo and Meath and drawing with Donegal, and while their attack, in which Sean O'Shea, Paul Geaney, Killian Buckley and David Clifford are key players, is one of the most potent units in the game, they tend to be vulnerable on occasions at the back.

In scoring 1-20 against them in their drawn encounter, Donegal highlighted the Kingdom's inability on occasions to stay tight to the ball carrier, and indeed Declan Bonner's players were able to get in shots unopposed on several occasions.

But Meyler and his Tyrone colleagues are not reading too much into this - indeed, they are acutely conscious that Kerry boss Peter Keane is urging a more concerted effort from his rearguard.

"I think it will all come down to very small percentages," observed Meyler.

"I just cannot see either side coming out on top on the day by an awful lot."

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