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O'Neill wants all Hands on deck for Tyrone's bid to retain crown


By Jolhn Campbell

Tyrone triple All-Ireland winner Stephen O'Neill is urging fans to get behind Mickey Harte's side as they bid to retain their Ulster Championship title.

Red Hands legend O'Neill, one of the greatest forwards ever to have emerged from Ulster, secured the first of his major honours when he was introduced as a substitute in the 2003 final against Kerry but was reluctant to accept his medal two years later because injury had robbed him of full involvement in Tyrone's campaign. He went on to win his third medal in 2008.

Indeed, few players have endured the number of injury setbacks which inflicted O'Neill during his lengthy playing career yet he invariably managed to bounce back.

Now he wants the Red Hands faithful to get behind the side as they prepare to open their campaign against Derry.

"This first match against Derry will undoubtedly be tough. I know the lads have lost their last three league matches but I don't think this will have any bearing on how they perform in the Championship. It's a whole new ball game and Mickey Harte will have the boys up for it, I am sure of that. This is a massive challenge," insisted O'Neill.

He has enlisted the aid of several past and present Tyrone players including Tiernan McCann, Conor Meyler, Joe McMahon, Martin Swift and Conal McCann to enter 'The Zone', a sporting challenge that will be hosted by St Mary's PS, Killyclogher in Cappagh Parish Hall on June 10.

"The challenge will test the concentration, dexterity and agility of some 60 willing participants from the local community - needless to say, they are all Tyrone fans," smiled O'Neill, who teaches at St Mary's.

With a £1,000 prize up for grabs, O'Neill predicts that the action will be fast and furious.

Proceeds from the night will go towards resources to benefit the pupils of St Mary's.

Belfast Telegraph


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