Modern stars go Hand-in-Hand with past heroes
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While All-Ireland glory has only been tasted in Tyrone recently, the O’Neill county has witnessed excellence for much longer. Francis Mooney looks at stand-out stars...
Small in stature, but blessed with huge amounts of skill, speed and courage, the Dungannon man was one of the greats of his generation. His finest display in a Tyrone shirt came in the 1956 All-Ireland semi-final, when he terrorised the Galway defence but finished on the losing side. A room at O’Neill Park in his home town is dedicated to his memory.
The late Frankie Donnelly perfected the art of place-kicking, and his scores were largely responsible for taking Tyrone to successive All-Ireland semi-finals in 1955 and ’56. Donnelly registered the highest score seen in an inter-county game, a 4-11 tally against Fermanagh in 1957. He helped Carrickmore to four Tyrone SFC titles.
One of the game’s most renowned goalkeepers, the Omagh man was an outstanding exponent of his art during the ’50s. Helped Tyrone win two Ulster titles, and a superb display against Galway in the 1956 All-Ireland semi-final saw him keep a clean sheet against a star-studded Tribal attack. His brilliance was recognised when he represented Ireland.
O’Neill was just 19 years old when he captained Tyrone to Ulster Championship glory in 1956. A strong and dependable centre half-back who could also play at midfield, the Red Hands benefited from his leadership qualities for many seasons. Coalisland Fianna clubman O’Neill later became Tyrone manager, and guided the county to Ulster Championship success in 1973.
For a full-back, Devlin was a small man, but compensated for his lack of inches with impeccable timing, often out-fielding players several inches taller. An integral part of the excellent team of the mid-50s, the late Coalisland man marshalled the defence with authority.
The Omagh St Enda’s star was a giant of Tyrone football in the ’50s. It was the first successful era for the county, and Taggart played an important role in bringing two Ulster SFCs to Tyrone. A forceful centre-forward with wonderful ball-winning ability, he was often seen dropping back to assist his defence in times of need.
His debut in 1954 in a National League game against Fermanagh was to mark the beginning of the first genuine period of success for Tyrone. The Omagh St Enda’s man played at centre-back in the team that won back-to-back Ulster titles. A teak-tough defender with a safe pair of hands, he played club football for two decades.
The Coalisland Fianna man was a diminutive corner-forward on Tyrone sides of the late ’60s.Electrifying pace, elusive carrying and opportunist scoring were among his many qualities. But one of his greatest strengths was his fearless commitment to physically challenge defenders twice his size. His era was an unsuccessful one for Tyrone, but he did savour club championship glory with the Fianna.
The legendary Frank McGuigan was one of the first GAA superstars. His performance in the 1984 Ulster final, when he scored 11 points from play, five off each foot and one with the fist, was one of the greatest individual displays the game has seen. McGuigan played in the minor and senior Ulster finals on the same day in 1972, and captained the seniors to Ulster success a year later. ‘The King’ was honoured as an Allstar in 1984, but never savoured Sam Maguire glory. However, he has seen three of his sons win All-Ireland medals.
The Tyrone team of the ’70s probably should have won more than one Ulster title. Pat King was one of the mainstays of that team, and a stalwart defender in the provincial success in 1973. A versatile player who could do justice to virtually any role, he scored a spectacular goal against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final.
One of the most dependable corner-backs in the game, he made his mark in the Tyrone renaissance which led the county out of the barren ’60s. A skilful footballer with a long clearance, the Derrylaughan man also represented Ulster with distinction.
Mulgrew was a commanding full-back and a key member of the team who won Ulster in 1973. The Stewartstown Harps man was renowned for his lengthy kick-outs, which invariably dropped into the opposition half. A member of Ulster Railway Cup sides.
One of the pioneers of the age of the attacking wing-back, Hughes in full flight was a delight to watch. His raiding runs down the left wing were a feature of Tyrone’s play in the ’70s. A terrier-like defender, he was a tough opponent whose pace and ball-carrying skills led to many scores for his side.
The Aghyaran man was a high-fielding midfielder in the early ’70s. His performances drew acclaim from far and wide, as he helped his side win the vital battle in the central area time and again. Tragically died in a road accident while in his prime.
A reliable free-taker is a crucial element of any successful team and, in Patsy, Tyrone had one of the best. His prolific marksmanship coincided with the emergence from the doldrums in the early ’70s. The Donaghmore man was leading scorer for his county for several seasons, and topped the National Football League chart in 1972.
The Trillick man was a strong and supremely talented wing-forward who possessed a lethal left foot. He was one of the finest attackers to wear the Red Hand, but the barren spell between 1973 and 1984 deprived him of deserved honours. He was recognised with a call-up to travel with the Allstars in 1979.
The Augher man was one of the finest midfielders to play the game, and often performed as an ace attacker for Tyrone.
McKenna won three Ulster SFC titles as a player and two as a manager, and was captain of the star-studded team of the mid-80s, leading Tyrone to a first ever All-Ireland final appearance in 1986. He was the county’s most prolific winner of Allstar awards until the emergence of Peter Canavan, having been honoured in 1984, ’86 and ’89.
Lynch won an Allstar for his performances in 1986, when Tyrone reached the All-Ireland final. He was a ‘lynchpin’ of the county’s defence for many seasons. His distinctive blond locks helped mark him out as a tenacious corner-back of the highest order. Although he played club football at junior level with Castlederg, he had no difficulty in meeting the demands of the inter-county game.
After starring for the county minor team for three seasons, O’Hagan graduated to the senior side and was one of the top attackers in the country in the ’80s. He won an Allstar in 1986. The Coalisland Fianna man won three Ulster SFC medals but missed out on an All-Ireland, following defeat to Kerry.
A strong and forceful centre-back, McGinn was the focal point of the rearguard that helped Tyrone reach the 1986 All-Ireland final. The Killyclogher man, who was a goalkeeper with the Tyrone minors, was an excellent reader of the game. Moved into management, where his greatest achievement came in 2007, when he guided Dromore to a first Tyrone SFC title.
The elegant and skilful McCabe was a constant presence in Tyrone teams for more than a dozen years. In his heyday he was one of the finest attacking wing-backs in the game, and played a key role in helping the Red Hands reach the 1986 All-Ireland final. The Clonoe man won an Allstar in 1984, and also represented Ulster. The versatile McCabe also inspired Clonoe to Tyrone SFC success in 1991 as a full-forward.
After launching his inter-county career in the early ’80s as a forward, McGarvey’s conversion saw him become a top-class full-back. A commanding figure, his fielding won him many admirers. The Aghyaran man was one of the stand-out performers in the 1986 All-Ireland final, when he eclipsed the legendary Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston. Regarded as extremely unfortunate to miss out on an Allstar that year.
The Moy man was one of the great servants to Tyrone, performing heroics at midfield for more than a decade.Was recognised as one of the greatest exponents of midfield play during the ’80s. Although he never played under-age football for the county, he became one of the greatest players in the game. Won an Allstar in 1986.
The Ardboe man won an Allstar in 1995 after a string of stand-out displays. After winning two All-Ireland U21 medals, he quickly graduated to the senior side, and was a regular at corner-back for almost a decade and was a member of the side that reached the All-Ireland final in 1995.
The older brother of current keeper Pascal was Tyrone’s regular netminder throughout the ’90s.
Remarkably agile for a big man, he made many memorable match-winning saves during a sparkling career.
Played in the All-Ireland final of 1995, and won an Allstar a year later. He also played for Ireland in the International Rules series.
One of the most decorated players in the history of the GAA, and possibly the greatest footballer of all time. Canavan’s attacking brilliance enthralled Tyrone supporters for 16 years, during which time he won two All-Ireland medals, in 2003 and 2005, and six Allstars. The Errigal Ciaran man also won four Ulster titles, and played for Ireland from 1998 to 2000. Canavan played in three All-Ireland finals. In 1995, he scored 11 of Tyrone’s 12 points in the defeat to Dublin, before captaining the county to victory over Armagh in the decider eight years later. He retired from inter-county football immediately after the 2005 final, when his goal inspired the Red Hands to triumph over Kerry.
Coalisland’S Corr captained the Tyrone team in the 1995 All-Ireland final. A high-fielding midfielder with an ability to cut through defences, he was also a tireless team player. Corr started his Tyrone career as a half-forward, but soon found his niche in the central area.
Always occupied a central position on Tyrone teams of the ’90s, whether it be full-back, centre-back or midfield. His leadership saw him handed the captaincy, a role he fulfilled for a number of seasons. The Pomeroy man was regarded as one of the finest defenders of his time, and was a regular on Ulster Railway Cup teams.
Lawn is one of the few Tyrone players who lost an All-Ireland final before winning one. A member of the team that lost the 1995 decider to Dublin, he helped the Red Hands lift Sam for the first time in 2003. A quality defender who gave years of service, his experience was a crucial factor in that breakthrough triumph.
Cavanagh is one of the most high-profile symbols of the golden age of Tyrone football. A treble All-Ireland winner, he has achieved every honour in the game. Three Allstars as a midfielder and one as a full-forward, along with Young Footballer of the Year and Footballer of the Year gongs, have been collected so far. The Moy man captained Ireland to victory over Australia in last year’s International Rules series.
The former Footballer of the Year stunned the GAA world in 2008 by quitting inter-county football. His decision to return to the fold has already reaped dividends. A gifted attacker with a capacity for racking up big totals, he is set to form a deadly strike partnership with Sean Cavanagh this season. Has three All-Ireland medals and an Allstar award, won in 2005.
The Carrickmore man has won three All-Ireland medals, but his trademark remains that block on Armagh’s Steven McDonnell in the dying moments of the 2003 final. A supremely effective man-marker, Gormley has played every defensive role for Tyrone, as well as midfield. Has won three Allstars, and should be a key figure in 2009. He has never skippered Tyrone, but captained Ulster to Railway Cup success.
‘Ricey’ has been one of the characters of Tyrone’s golden era, winning three All-Ireland medals.A tenacious defender who has humbled some of the game’s top attackers, his attacking has also come to the fore. The Dromore man, who never played under-age football for the county, won an Allstar for his displays in 2005.
Dooher belongs to an exclusive club of players who have captained two Sam Maguire Cup-winning teams, but there’s much more to Mr Perpetual Motion than that. His passion for the game and utter determination to succeed, allied to an awesome work-rate, mark him out as unique. Still going strong at the age of 33, he is a triple Allstar recipient.
One of the great playmakers, McGuigan’s vision and creativity were central to Tyrone’s All-Ireland triumphs in 2003 and ’05. A catalogue of serious injuries threatened to end his career, but the Ardboe man displayed great courage and determination to defy the odds and return to win a third All-Ireland medal last September. An Allstar winner in 2003.
The tragedy of Cormac McAnallen’s sudden death in 2004, at the age of 24, continues to deeply affect his friends within the Tyrone squad. But they have succeeded in honouring the memory of a wonderful player by winning two more All-Irelands. Cormac was one of the game’s outstanding midfielders prior to his conversion to a full-back in 2003, a role in which he revelled as Tyrone won a first All-Ireland title, which earned him an Allstar award.
The Errigal Ciaran man has been a key component in all three of Tyrone’s All-Ireland triumphs. But it was the 2008 campaign which saw him become the complete player. Established himself as a top-class midfielder, and a remarkable level of consistency saw him turn in a string of classy performances, which ultimately earned him an Allstar.
Triple All-Ireland winner Jordan is recognised as one of the finest wing-backs in the modern game. An inspirational figure in all of Tyrone’s All-Ireland triumphs, he has been a match-winner on many occasions, combining resolute
defending with an attacking flair which has seen him frequently hit important scores.
The Moy man’s brilliance has been rewarded with Allstars in 2003, ’05 and ’08.
The flamboyant ‘Mugsy’ has provided many magical moments for Tyrone fans. Three All-Ireland medals take pride of place in his collection of honours, and he is intent on making his mark in 2009. His wonder goal against Dublin in the 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final will never be forgotten. The Cookstown man won an Allstar that year.
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