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20th Sep 2021

Conor Meyler on post-match moment from Croke Park he’ll never forget

Patrick McCarry


“I enjoy my own company at the best of times so I will enjoy some quiet time later in the week and then let it all sink in.”

Conor Meyler told himself to let it all sink in, and he’s doing his best to stick to that vow.

The Omagh St Enda’s clubman is still trying to get his head around all the extra attention that has been afforded to him after helping Tyrone to All-Ireland glory.

Having experienced the heartache of a final defeat to Dublin, in 2018, Meyler feels it only ended up making their victory over Mayo all the sweeter. With that loss three years ago, though, he is not sure if he or his teammates would be where they are today.

“2018 was completely different, personally and as a team,” he says. “I think we’re a lot more mature now.

“At the time we probably got caught up in the hype and definitely weren’t ready for it. Lessons we learned then were invaluable as most of that team are still playing.

“For me personally, I obviously couldn’t enjoy the build-up. I complete shut myself off from the rest of the world. I was just so focused on getting back [from a fractured leg]. I’m quite intense or driven when it comes to things like that, I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I was sleeping in an oxygen tent to get more oxygen.

“I don’t know if any of these things actually helped or worked, but I did come back from a broken leg in four weeks and played midfield in an All-Ireland final. But you could tell that hadn’t trained. I had one training session before the final. It was probably my own ball skills and that that let me down, whereas having time to prepare and enjoy it this time was a big thing. I said to myself, ‘I’m going to enjoy this experience‘.”

Enjoy it he did. Meyler put in a rampaging final performance and it was recognised, on an individual level, when he was named PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for September.

‘Wee chats with fellas’

Asked for the highlights of that final victory, two immediately spring to mind.

“The final whistle stands out to me, and just looking around. That was what I dreamt of, from 2005, being at the final [when Tyrone won] with my Dad.

“And then me and Peter Harte sitting in front of The Hill, with his wee baby girl, Ava.

“I remember being very conscious to just soak in all the moments. I was conscious of doing that before the game of that as well. So that was a really nice one, seeing the lads going around the pitch and getting one-to-one time chatting to them.”

Conor Meyler and Peter Harte of Tyrone with 10-month old Ava Harte after the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Final at Croke Park. (Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile)

It is the small natters and moments over the past week that he has enjoyed most. Those little clusters when, sitting in a group of two or three, it all comes rushing back – we’re All-Ireland champions.

“The last few days,” he says, “when we were out on the beer Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, just pulling myself aside to have wee chats with fellas.

“I thought that was important too, to not get too carried away and find time to sit and reflect with close friends. As well as being with family immediately after. After you win a final everybody wants to see you and chat to you but they were the ones who were there all year.”

“They were at all the games and when things aren’t going well they’re there for you,” Meyler adds, “when you’re doing injury work or rehab in the house. Hugging my mum and dad was a special moment too.”

PwC GAA/GPA Footballer of the Month for September, Conor Meyler of Tyrone, with his award at his home club Omagh St Enda’s GAA. (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile)