All-Ireland Qualifier Round One
Armagh v Tyrone
Sunday, Athletic Grounds, 1.30pm
By Shaun Casey
SIX weeks is a long time in the intercounty game, especially when you don’t know who you’re preparing to face for the most part of it. That’s where Armagh found themselves since their disappointing exit to Donegal in the Ulster Championship.
Oisin O’Neill insists Kieran McGeeney’s men have worked hard over those six weeks and are looking forward to another big outing on Sunday against arch-rivals Tyrone.
“After Donegal we had the opportunity, it was kind of like a reset. We knew we had six weeks so there was no hangover from the game as such.
“Everyone knew there was a chance to put your hand up and maybe if you weren’t in the 26 the last day to jump into that or into the starting team or whatever it was.
“We just trained really, really hard for the couple of weeks after. At the end of the day these are the games that we want to play in, we all want to play in the big games, and they don’t get much bigger than this.”
O’Neill’s league campaign was limited to just two substitute appearances while he also came off the bench in that Donegal game.
“Obviously, I missed a lot of the league due to injury and was only back in training ten days or so before the Donegal game so it has really given me a good chance to get a mini preseason and hopefully the work, I’ve done will stand to me in the next couple of weeks.
“We just had to work hard and learn as much as we could out of the Donegal game and feel like we’re maybe in a better place.
“The likes of myself and a couple of other boys who were struggling with injuries have all cleared up and it could have been a good thing for us as well.”
His return is huge for Armagh as their injury count has begun to pile up with Ciaran Mackin, Tiernan Kelly and Niall Grimley all unavailable.
The versatile Crossmaglen man could find himself at centerfield and O’Neill has experience of playing in the middle as well as further up the pitch.
Armagh are pretty flexible with their team selections and have a number of players that can play in different positions which is a “benefit” according to O’Neill.
“There’s a number of our players who play in different positions for their clubs and stuff and that ultimately can help you. That can be a benefit that if you do find yourself in a certain position that you’re able to capitalise on it then.”
On a favoured position, O’Neill is happy to play anywhere for the team – “wherever the management decide.”
“Probably growing up I would have played most of my football in midfield and that’s ultimately where I see myself, as a midfielder. But I’m more than happy to play anywhere for either Armagh or Cross.
“As long as you’re contributing to the team and if the management feel that that is inside or outside, I’m more than happy to do either.”