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Meyler eyes yet another honour as Omagh step up glory bid

 

By John Campbell

When Conor Meyler attended the formal launch of the Dr McKenna Cup competition earlier this year, he did so more in hope than confidence.

He may have been a member of the Tyrone squad for the past three years but Meyler did not don the Red Hand jersey during the opening competition of 2017.

Instead, he skippered a St Mary's University College side that was expected to prove cannon fodder for the county teams they encountered.

Yet if the west Belfast seat of learning found themselves ushered out of the running for the McKenna Cup, the experience they gained was to prove beneficial in another context.

Just a matter of weeks after being a relatively anonymous figure at the McKenna Cup blast-off, Meyler found himself the focus of media attention when he skippered St Mary's to only the second Sigerson Cup triumph in their history.

Little did he know it at the time but this was merely to be an aperitif for all-action wing-forward Meyler.

Come July and he was taking delivery of his second successive Ulster Championship medal with Tyrone and a couple of weeks ago he landed another prize in the form of a county championship medal with his club Omagh St Enda's.

Tomorrow Meyler hopes to take a big step towards what could prove to be his fourth honour of the season when St Enda's face Derry and Ulster champions Slaughtneil in the provincial quarter-final at Celtic Park (7.00pm).

It's the Omagh side's biggest match since their involvement in the 2014 Ulster club series and Meyler is determined that the team will produce an optimum performance thus helping him to further erase the frustration he felt last season when injuries disrupted his involvement at both club and county level.

"I had a couple of hamstring problems as well as other knocks and I did not really get going but it has been a bit different this year," says Meyler.

"While that St Mary's triumph in the Sigerson Cup was extra-special for those lucky enough to have been involved, it was satisfying too to see Tyrone win the Ulster title and St Enda's get their hands on the county title again.

"If you had told me at the start of the year that all of this would have unfurled I would have found it difficult to believe yet here we are hoping to reach the Ulster club semi-finals. To do that we have to beat a Slaughtneil side that has been setting the template for the rest of us."

Meyler is joined by a platoon of experienced players in the St Enda's side including the McMahon brothers Joe and Justin, Barry Tierney, Ronan O'Neill and Conor O'Donnell.

He may still be awaiting his call-up to the Tyrone squad but O'Donnell has shown the kind of finishing this season that marks him down as a forward of quality. Justin McMahon has not started a game in the championship but manager Paddy Crozier, the former Derry boss, knows that his craft and physical power are assets that can be deployed from the bench.

His brother Joe is still producing the goods, his dynamic input helping to galvanise the side and sustain its momentum while Ronan O'Neill's crucial goal against Trillick in the semi-final hauled St Enda's back into the picture after they found themselves staring into a six-point deficit.

Boss Crozier, who knows Derry football inside out, requires no reminding as to Slaughtneil's capabilities.

"Their record speaks for itself and the fact that they have got a winning habit sees them play with confidence," states Crozier.

Belfast Telegraph

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