One of the most passionate rivalries in Irish sport will be temporarily shelved when Michaela McAreavey, daughter of Tyrone team boss Mickey Harte, is laid to rest on Monday.
Armagh players will join their Tyrone counterparts in forming a guard of honour at the funeral and last night Red Hands spokesman Damien Harvey recalled this will be a re-enactment of what happened when Cormac McAnallen died suddenly almost seven years ago.
“There is no more intense rivalry within the GAA than Tyrone v Armagh,” stated Harvey. “But we feel that in a sporting context at least this will be the ultimate expression of solidarity with the Harte and McAreavey families.”
When Tyrone won their first All-Ireland title in 2003, Armagh were their victims in the final.
And when they captured ‘Sam’ for a second time two years later, the O’Neill county again lowered the Orchard County colours this time in the semi-final.
While Armagh have landed seven Ulster titles in the last eleven years, Tyrone have three All-Ireland crowns to Armagh’s solitary achievement in 2002.
Harvey added: “But all this counts for little at a time like this.
“It is tremendous to see players rallying round — Michaela was almost as well-known in Armagh.
“We know that we can count on the support of our Orchard County friends at a time like this despite the great rivalry that exists between our counties.”
Tyrone's McKenna Cup match against Fermanagh, scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until after the funeral.