Wednesday 21 March 2018

O'Neill ban gives Harte headache

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte must plan without another key player for the remainder of the National Football League after Sean O'Neill was handed a three-month suspension by the GAA's Higher Education body yesterday.

O'Neill was hit with the proposed suspension for his alleged involvement in the incidents which marred last week's Sigerson Cup match between St Mary's, Belfast and NUIG.

NUIG won the match by 0-6 to 0-5 but St Mary's players were enraged because they felt that referee Sean Carroll had called the game to a halt 30 seconds ahead of time.

There were angry scenes as Carroll made his way to the dressing-room, with the players venting their frustration. Ardboe's Gavin Teague has also received a similar suspension arising from the same incident.

O'Neill featured in all of Tyrone's games during their successful McKenna Cup run and was one of their key performers at half-back as the county began their league campaign in fine style against Kildare last weekend.

This suspension though will effectively rule him out of the remainder of the league, and it comes at a time when Conor Gormley is also on the sidelines recovering from ankle surgery last weekend.

Elsewhere, Kerry outfit Dr Crokes have been dealt a blow ahead of their All-Ireland club SFC semi-final date with Crossmaglen on Sunday week after it was confirmed that wing-back Shane Myers will miss the clash due to a fractured bone in his calf.

Myers sustained the injury when the club played Kerry in a challenge in Mallow last week.

A visit to Kerry General Hospital revealed the full extent of the damage.

"He has a slight fracture in a small bone at the back of his leg but it's not a clean break. He has been put in a cast for a period of time. We are not sure yet for how long he will be out but he will definitely miss the Crossmaglen game," explained Crokes boss Harry O'Neill.

"It's heartbreaking for the lad. Hopefully if we can get over Crossmaglen -- which is a big if -- he might make the final."

Armagh boss Paddy O'Rourke expects regular goalkeeper Paul Hearty to return for another campaign once his club commitments with Crossmaglen are concluded.

The veteran stopper was part of the All-Ireland winning panel of 2002, when he deputised for Benny Tierney, and took over the No 1 shirt the following season. He has been a virtual ever-present since.

"From talking to Paul, he's ready to come back for another campaign once Crossmaglen are finished up," explained O'Rourke, whose side took a point from 2010 All-Ireland champions Cork in the Morgan Athletic Grounds in their opening NFL Division 1 clash last weekend.

Irish Independent

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