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McNamee kept busy by club but focus now on Red Hands

By John Campbell

It's perhaps just as well that the phrase burn-out has no place in the sporting dictionary of Ronan McNamee.

In an era when inter-county players are stepping aside citing injuries, non-selection and a desire to undertake global travel as reasons for their departures, McNamee has bucked the trend by having already played for UUJ, Tyrone and his club Aghyaran.

But when a raft of new players were given their chance by different county bosses, they sprang to the fore, and now the experienced McNamee believes that Tyrone are even better equipped to meet the challenge of retaining the Anglo-Celt Cup.

"I regard it as an honour to represent my university, county and club. I know much is made of the pressures that are associated with inter-county football but I can tell you that Tyrone can't wait for the Ulster Championship to start," says McNamee.

"The fact that club games are ongoing obviously leaves players open to injury - Lee Brennan is a case in point - but there is no substitute for playing matches."

McNamee, one of the top full-backs in the country, nonetheless acknowledges that the Red Hands face a major test in their bid to collect another provincial title.

"The fact that we are meeting Monaghan means that this will be an absolutely massive first round game for us," insists McNamee.

"But, having said that, we are looking forward to it. We have been getting game time with our clubs over the course of recent weeks which has been good, and now we will be stepping up our preparations with the county.

"Our match against Monaghan is on May 20, so the time won't be long going in, and obviously we will be putting everything into our preparations."

The modest and unassuming McNamee, who follows in the footsteps of his famous Aghyaran club colleague Ciaran McGarvey by continuing to distinguish himself in the No.3 jersey, points to Monaghan's performances in the Allianz League as just one reason why Tyrone should keep their guard up.

"Monaghan finished in third position in Division One and they beat Dublin in Croke Park in the process, which was no mean feat. They also won the Ulster title in 2013 and 2015 so they will be coming to us well fired up," adds McNamee.

While manager Mickey Harte continues to monitor the progress of Tiernan McCann, Colm Cavanagh and Lee Brennan, McNamee believes that the recent infusion of some fresh talent has given the Red Hands' squad extra strength in depth.

"The fact is that we have boys who can now come in and do a job on any given day. We have a serious panel of players and anyone is capable of stepping into any position in the team. It's great to see this and to know that we have a panel capable of achieving this," maintains McNamee.

"Frank Burns has come in and played centre-half-back in the last couple of games and was outstanding, while Lee Brennan has been very good.

"We might have a few injuries but there are plenty of people ready to step in at the drop of a hat. That can only benefit the side, I believe," he added.

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