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Coalisland out to do it for stricken Toner, says Kerr

By Declan Bogue

Thoughts of Philip Toner won't be far away from the minds of Coalisland Na Fianna players this Sunday as they take to the field for the Tyrone county final replay against Killyclogher (Healy Park, throw-in 3.30pm).

Toner, a mainstay of the club, suffered an horrendous cruciate ligament injury as he went for the ball in the 29th minute of last weekend's drawn final.

By way of unfortunate coincidence, Killyclogher player Niall McFadden suffered an almost identical injury just two minutes into the game, and both sides will be without their powerful presences for up to two years, given the seriousness of their injuries.

Coalisland captain Niall Kerr believes the onus is on the east Tyrone side to do their best to bring the O'Neill Cup home for their stricken comrade.

"Philly going off was a big blow," he said. "There was great emotion at half-time seeing Philly lying in pain. He was in the changing room on the floor, there was a bit of emotion trying to get started again in the middle of the field."

Toner himself said in midweek: "Dr Peter Murphy, who looked after me, said it was the worst knee injury he has seen. It'll take a year or two but I'll take it a step at a time for now and see what the future holds."

Toner's replacement was Peter McGahan. The rangy midfielder had lost out on a starting berth, but was effective for John McKeever's side when introduced, hitting two points from play and switching between the roles of full-forward and midfield.

Kerr said: "This team is full of great characters, it's been five or six years since we were in a county final, it'll be good to be back again. We'll get back up for it again and it's all to play for."

He added of the draw: "It's a bit of a mixture of relief and disappointment, we were in front then we were behind. We got out in front but it ended a draw so we'll have to do it all over again."

Meanwhile, the first competitive game featuring the latest manifestation of 'The Mark' rule, due to come in from January 1, took place last night between two Belfast University teams.

Queen's and St Mary's faced off in Group B of the Division One league, a gentle warm-up before varsity football gets going in earnest, and the rule was in operation.

The rule had previously been tested in the 2010 National League, but was scrapped afterwards.

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