“You are proving yourself again" - Niall Sludden admits that he was unsure if the new Tyrone management rated him
"I wonder what these boys think of me?"
Niall Sludden is relishing under Brian Dooher and Feargal Logan, as they prepare to face Mayo in this Saturday's All-Ireland final.
The creative-type player, was a mainstay in Mickey Harte's team, particularly the side that reached the final in 2018 against Dublin.
However, after not starting in any of the league games this year, Sludden started to doubt whether the new management team rated him or not.
“Obviously Mickey (Harte) and Gavin (Devlin) and all his backroom team, it was great and all too, but when you get a new voice and different management team in too it just gives you that wee bit more of a focus too.
“You are proving yourself again. Kind of a clean slate. That’s the way it was at the start of the year in trials.
“But when you get a new voice and different management team in too it just gives you that wee bit more of a focus too.
“You are proving yourself again. Kind of a clean slate. That’s the way it was at the start of the year in trials.”
The limbo of wondering whether or not he as in the managements plans or not, and the allure of cab football, did play on Sludden's mind early in the season.
“I suppose throughout the year I was kind of playing bit parts, playing different appearances off the bench and thinking to myself, ‘Right, I wonder what these boys think of me?’ or, ‘Do they rate me?’
“I just kept going at training. Next thing I know I was getting drafted in and sent into the Cavan game (Ulster quarter-final).
“I was just like, ‘I am ready for this,’ and just felt that buzz again too.
“It’s been great, just that extra buzz and there’s probably been that bit more professionalism to the set-up and that’s nothing on the last set-up.
“Every corner is being got at. Just lucky like, privileged to be in the position. We have got everything we want.
“I think you are always doubting yourself. I think that comes with a player, but then you know what, I would always have great self belief.
“I know what I can do. I know what I can bring to the team too. I suppose I was thinking, ‘This is going to be a short year. Am I going to get a chance here at all?’
“I knew I was getting game time, and then I was thinking to myself there are boys not even getting game time.
“It really was just being patient and waiting for my chance, and lucky enough it came along and here we are.
“Again, going into an All-Ireland final, I know we will be going back to training and there will be boys pushing for places in the 26 and the team.
“So there is no certainty at the minute and I am just trying to do my best at training again to impress, impress, impress, impress. Especially with Brian and Feargal, that’s what they are looking out for.
“You were questioning, looking at games in the club league, and thinking ‘Maybe I should be going there. Maybe I should be giving more to my club at this age. I want to be playing more.’
“It really was just a matter of patience. It’s the same for a lot of boys in the squad. There’s so many great players there, even outside the panel.
“I think it was an easy enough decision to make. Obviously I love Dromore as well, but I love being part of the (Tyrone) set-up. I’ve been part of it for a long time.