Coach O’Neill focused on taking home the big prize

Two years ago, Ronan O’Neill climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the Sam Maguire and claim an All-Ireland medal after Tyrone dispatched Mayo in a drama-filled final.

On Saturday evening, he’ll be back in Croke Park, and although the Omagh clubman won’t be playing, he’ll have a role to play as Fermanagh forwards coach as the county bids to win the Division 3 league title.

After a 10-year playing career with Tyrone, O’Neill retired from inter-county football in 2021.

He began to have ‘ideas’ about coaching, and shortly after Fermanagh’s defeat to Cavan in last year’s Tailteann Cup, Kieran Donnelly offered his former Omagh CBS student a role in his backroom team as a forwards coach.

“I sort of hummed and hawed, wondering how it would work playing with Omagh. But I thought it was too good of an opportunity to turn down, to start my coaching career,” recalled O’Neill.

Since then, O’Neill has helped transform the Fermanagh attack and he has received rave reviews from the players. His role is to find ways to improve the Erne men up front, as well as analysing opposition defenders, figuring out how to break down the opposition.

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