By Niall Gartland
LINING out in the red and white of Tyrone is an achievement in itself, but it’s a results business and Joe Oguz was relieved to come out on the winning side of a competitive tussle against Armagh last Saturday evening.
He was granted his first championship start at senior inter-county level against Galway a few weeks back, and while that game went the way of the Tribesmen, Tyrone bounced back with a hard-fought victory against Armagh at a sun-drenched O’Neill’s Healy Park.
It was a badly needed victory that sets them in good stead for their final round clash against Westmeath on Sunday week, and Oguz explains that hard work has been the crucial component in wiping the slate clean after their bitterly disappointing defeat against Monaghan in the first-round of the Ulster Championship.
“That five-week period after the Monaghan game was all about hard work, it was very disappointing to lose to a last-minute goal, but we’ve taken a lot of learning out of that game.
“There’s obviously been questions asked of this team and as individuals, but we base everything on working hard and we’re glad to get over the line [against Armagh], it’s a big boost for us looking ahead to the rest of the season.”
Oguz has always sampled success on the big stage, winning back-to-back Ulster u-20 titles with Tyrone in 2019 and 2020 and playing a massive role in Errigal Ciaran’s surge to O’Neill Cup honours last autumn.
Senior inter-county football is another step up entirely when it comes to competition for places, but Oguz says he’s ready for it.
“I wasn’t in the panel in 2021, I was in the stands watching Tyrone win the All-Ireland, and it gave me the hunger to play alongside the lads I’ve been watching for years.
“It’s great to be involved and I just want to cement my place on the team. I’ll keep working hard and hopefully that’ll show on the pitch.”
Tyrone looked on course for a fairly comfortable victory against Armagh but their opponents offered plenty of resistance and there were only two points between the teams at the final whistle. Oguz was glad just to come through unscathed.
“We hoped to keep them at arm’s length as we’d built up a lead, but fair play to Armagh, they came out of the blocks quickly in the second-half and pressed hard.
“We dug deep and it shows you that hard work gets you over the line in these matches, that’s what it took from everyone.”