Tyrone going to have to step it up for Donegal - Sludden

Tom Comack sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

Tyrone defeated Cavan by ten points in their last game, the replayed Ulster semi-final.

But as good and all as that performance was in the 5-18 to 2-17 win over the Breffni Blues there is room for improvement according to Niall Sludden, one of Mickey Harte’s new kids on the block.

“It was a big win alright. But it could have been a lot more but we took the foot off the gas,” insisted the versatile Sludden, who has featured at half-back and half-forward in Tyrone’s three championship games so far this season.

“We know we are going to have to lift the level of our performance in Sunday’s final because what we have produced so far won’t be good enough to win.

“It definitely won’t be good enough against Donegal and we know we are going have perform for the 70 to 75 minutes on Sunday if we are to be in with a chance of winning.”

The Dromore clubman, who has missed out on success at underage with the Red Hands, is facing into a first Ulster senior final and is also facing Donegal at senior level for the first time.

“I have played against Donegal a couple of times at underage level but this is the first time to play them in a big championship game.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing against one of the top teams, not only in Ulster, but in Ireland. But that is what you train for.”

The 23-year-old, who made his championship debut against Derry in Celtic Park, does not subscribe to the view that Donegal are an ageing team and have their best days behind them.

“Donegal are very much there and they have added a lot of youth in the last couple of seasons and they seem to have blended in well with the older lads.

“They are always very dangerous in Ulster and they have big ambitions and we know they are a very strong team and we are just looking forward to going into battle with them.

“There is going to be a massive crowd and a brilliant atmosphere. It is days like that you play football for and I’m looking forward going into the white heat of battle and all that noise as well. It does not phase me.”

The fact that it is his first senior final does not phase him either and he is happy that the mood in the Tyrone squad is good.

“There is a great buzz around the squad. There is a lot of competitiveness around the squad and everybody is kept on their toes in terms of the panel and picking the team.

“It is great to be there and it is great to be in the Ulster final. But we just don’t want to be there, we want to finish off the job too.”