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Dublin: 13°C Sunday 16 May 2021

Freak pre-match accident sees Tyrone's O'Neill miss out on league final

Tyrone’s key attacker withdrew before the throw-in while Dublin’s Paul Flynn was also a late injury absentee.

Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill.
Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

A FREAK ACCIDENT during the pre-match warm-up ruled Tyrone’s Stephen O’Neill out of this afternoon’s Division 1 football league final against Dublin.

O’Neill tripped over a football in the indoor warm-up area underneath the Hogan Stand in the Croke Park stadium and damaged his ankle.

The key attacker was subsequently a late withdrawal from the Red Hands starting line-up in an exciting contest that Dublin eventually won by 0-18 to 0-17.

His replacement Conor McAliskey acquitted himself excellently as he shot over 0-3 during his time on the pitch.

Bizarrely the injury occurred in the same warm-up area where Sean Cavanagh damaged his ankle when he stepped on a bottle before Tyrone’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin in 2008.

Manager Mickey Harte revealed after today’s game that Tyrone opted not to start O’Neill to avoid further damage yet he is confident the star attacker will be available for their eagerly-awaited Ulster championship showdown with Donegal on May 26th in Ballybofey.

“Stephen was just doing the warm-up and accidentally stepped back on top of a football. He went over on his ankle and down. He just wasn’t going to be able to play.

“It was too sore to twist and turn. Then imagine someone tackling and pulling at you after that. He just knew himself and the physio that it wasn’t going to work today.

“It’s always a concern when Stephen O’Neill gets injured but early indications are that it’s not a serious injury. It’s just enough to keep him out on today’s game. It would have been a retrograde step to put him into today’s game because he probably would have done a lot more damage.

“I think that he’ll be okay. With a couple of weeks rest, I think he’ll be ready and able to push on for Ballybofey. We were very unfortunate. It reminded of a few years ago when Sean Cavanagh stepped on a bottle accidentally. He went over on his ankle and caused us a lot of consternation at that stage.”

Meanwhile Dublin manager Jim Gavin revealed that Paul Flynn was not started as he had not recovered from a knock sustained against Mayo.

As it happened: Dublin v Tyrone, Division 1 football league final

Derry secure Division 2 league title against Westmeath

Limerick stars Galvin and Ryan face race to be fit for Cork championship clash

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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