TYRONE u-20 forward Sean Óg McAleer does not need any extra motivation to play this weekend.
He’s facing into an All-Ireland semi-final clash with Cork, and he was very clear on how important this match is to him.
“This is the biggest game that I have ever played in,” McAleer said.
“It is the biggest stage that I will ever have been on.”
It is going to be very difficult for them to reach the final. They play a Cork team that beat Kerry 3-16 to 0-12. The Rebels took the lead in the second minute and never relinquished control of the game.
But Tyrone full forward Sean Og McAleer believes that he and his team mates possess the strengths to put it up to the Rebels.
Tyrone beat Derry comfortably in the Ulster final, and it was in that game that they showed their best attributes.
The Gortin forward said: “There are no individuals. If there is a goal on, and a ball can be passed, it will be passed to the man in the best position to score.
“The main thing about this team is its strength and depth. You have fifteen starters but you have fifteen men after that who are just as good. There is no position that is safe.”
He also said that the part the management played was crucial.
“From the very start everyone has had their fair chance. They have moulded us into a team. There are no individuals.
“We are all pushing on for the same goal.”
McAleer played an integral part in Tyrone’s win over Derry in the Ulster u-20 final a fortnight ago. He top scored for the Red Hands with a tally of 1-2. He also set up Joe Oguz for his goal, and was a constant problem for the Derry defence.
Tyrone were under pressure early in the game after Derry got the better start. But Tyrone reeled them in and by half time they were in front 2-9 to 1-5. Derry never really troubled Tyrone during the second half , and the Red Hands went on to win by 4-13 to 1-10.
McAleer added: “Even though we put them away thankfully we got them goals at the right time.
“They had got a good start. It probably looked like they were going to push on and run away with it but they didn’t and we kept it together. By half time we were up by seven and we pushed on in the second half. We didn’t give them any glimpse of getting back into it.”
Tyrone had a clear game plan of how to beat Derry and it worked out.
McAleer said: “Everything we planned to do worked out. It was a good day. One of those days when everything went right.”
It had been a long time since Tyrone had won an underage title. Their u-21s won the provincial title in 2015, while the county’s minors last won Ulster back in 2012.
So this was an important victory for the county. Sean Óg was well aware of that.
“It is massive for us. We haven’t won anything for four years. Derry had beat us two years in a row at minors. For us to get one over them was important. We knew what they were going to bring. Thankfully everything went right for us on the day.”
Yet the question for Tyrone is how they can improve upon such a consummate performance over Derry, a game in which they never looked like they were going to lose, after they got past the early scare.
“When we watch the video I am sure that we will see things that we can learn from and improve on for the All-Ireland semi-final,” McAleer said.