29 Jan 2016

Meyler set to fulfil his dreams

The difference between winning and losing is at times marginal but the contrasting emotions are there for all to see.  Sammy Bradley’s late winner for Slaughtneil broke Omagh hearts under the Armagh floodlights on that November night in 2014.  
Pic - teamtalkmag.com
The sound of Ciaran Brannigan’s whistle saw Omagh players sink to their knees.  One of those broken men that night was Conor Meyler but the emotions last weekend were oh so different.

Last Saturday evening as Mattie Donnelly led his side out for the second half of the McKenna Cup Final, number 25 Conor Meyler took left and trotted towards the D’Alton Park end.
Tyrone had it all to do but when Noel Mooney threw in the ball nobody in the ground would have envisaged the effect the Omagh man would have on the game.

The energy he brought to the game was vital as Tyrone got back into the game.  Winning just over half of their own kickouts, Tyrone had to make every possession count and in this department Meyler was a class above anything on the park and will be a useful addition as they plot their championship path this summer.

His father Seanie was a terrific servant of Tyrone football and Meyler junior is very aware of the proud tradition of playing with the county.  “Every day you put on a Tyrone jersey you’re honoured to be on the field. 
There is a proud tradition with Tyrone and you have to avail of the opportunity and growing up that’s what you want to do.  You want to play for Tyrone and any chance you get you have to try and take it.”

During his post match interview he is firmly focussed, looking straight ahead with his game face still on.  As the rest of the Tyrone panel filter past him heading for the bus they are trying to unsettle him.  No chance!  He is still in the zone and hoping to make the panel and is aware of those snapping at his heels.

“At the minute the squad is really really tight and I’m just happy to get a bit of game time and try to prove another point to Mickey to try and make the panel.  At the minute competition for places is serious, everyone is working really hard in training.”

Even though he wasn’t listed on the official squad on Saturday night Sean Cavanagh is still in the vicinity, signing autographs.  The children look up to him and so too does Meyler.  Cavanagh (213 appearances) and skipper Mattie Donnelly (69) are experienced campaigners and the young Omagh man is hoping to impress them.

“What the older players have done in training and from watching them it’s rubbing off.  The younger boys coming on wouldn’t be where they are without them older boys.  They really do look after us, they spur us on and we look up to them as role models. We try to impress them as well as Mickey.”

Meyler covered every blade of grass in the Athletic Grounds and played a huge role in winning the game but he still values the senior members of the panel.  He emphasises how important it is to play to the final whistle. 
“You’re looking up at Sean Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly and these boys.  They’ve won so many games in their time in the last 5 or 10 minutes.  Young boys can only do so much; you need the leaders to really spur you on.”

That said, the younger crop coming in from last year’s U21 panel have given the Red Hands a fresh impetus and Meyler pointed out the importance of last year’s U21 success in their development towards senior. 
“With the U21s last year we won a lot of games very late on so obviously we know that when you put on the Tyrone jersey you’re never dead and buried until the final whistle”.

Three times during the interview Meyler references ‘putting on the Tyrone jersey’ and the importance of it.  This Sunday he will wear the number twelve jersey and no doubt the GPS unit will be in overdrive tracking his every move.
As he takes a seat in the familiar surroundings of the Healy Park dressing room he will have sole focus on the Cavan game.  Somewhere in the back of his mind there will be another burning desire though.
He will crave to pull on a starting jersey on 22nd May in Celtic Park. The modern game is about energy and mobility and the flame haired Omagh man fits the bill.

Tyrone Team: Michael O’Neill, Aidan McCrory, Justin McMahon, Cathal McCarron, Niall Sludden, Rory Brennan, Tiernan McCann, Colm Cavanagh, Mattie Donnelly, Cathal McShane, Peter Harte, Conor Meyler, Lee Brennan, Connor McAliskey, Ronan O Neill.


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