With three victories in three games and a semi final place assured the Tyrone camp can feel reasonably happy with the outcome of their schedule over the past week. They have introduced a couple of new and younger players and all have acquitted themselves quite well. The form of Ciaran Gervin and Paddy Mc Niece in particular has been refreshing to see. However the most pleasing things about this year’s tournament to me have been the return to action of Stephen O’Neill and the good form being shown by Tyrone players playing on their college teams.
Stephen O’Neill’s return to action has endured a few false dawns this year already but the sight of him jogging to the full forward position against UUJ gave all Tyrone fans a great lift. He may not be as match sharp as he would like to be but he showed in that game that he still has the pace, movement and finishing power that made him one of the most feared forwards in the modern game. His first score on his return was a fine effort that involved eleven different Tyrone players in the build up and the response from the Tyrone supporters showed clearly how much Stephen’s return to action meant to them.
We can only hope that the Killyclogher based schoolteacher enjoys an injury free season and lights up the playing fields of the country further with his exquisite finishing and fine football.
As for the colleges teams I have to say I was very impressed with the fitness levels, organisation and talent on display on the UUJ team against Tyrone. There has been some talk about not allowing the colleges teams to participate in the competition but I feel the inclusion of the students’ teams has helped breathe new life into the competition and to exclude them would be a retrograde step.
There have been some fine performances from the students and some noteworthy results. The most impressive of all these was probably St. Mary’s victory over Armagh during the week. I was delighted for Paddy Tally and his team but even more pleased to hear that it was Tyrone men who were the key players in this huge win. Niall Morgan, Peter Harte and Kevin Mossey were in great form and by all accounts Peter Harte was majestic throughout. If he keeps up this sort of form it looks like the flame haired Errigal man could well prove to be a key figure in the Tyrone senior set up as well.