O’Neill hints it may be the time to retire

Former Footballer of the Year Stephen O’Neill has intimated that he may have played his last game for Tyrone.

The treble All-Ireland-winning attacker has struggled with injury in recent seasons, missing this season’s National League and starting just once in five championship games.

“The legs are getting very old, and there’s plenty of boys telling me I’m too old,” he said.

O’Neill (34) has enjoyed a sparkling career spanning 14 seasons, during which he won three All-Star awards.

He announced his retirement back in 2008, but made a sensational return late in the season, helping the Red Hands win a third All-Ireland title.

Tyrone’s season came to a disappointing end in the qualifier defeat to neighbours Armagh at Healy Park, but O’Neill feels the county can bounce back to the top.

“We have a good panel of players there, and you never know what can happen.

“We got to the semi-final last year, and it’s disappointing this year, going out so early. We were very close last year to getting to a final. There’s definitely a lot more in the squad, the talent’s there. It’s just about getting it right now for next year. Everybody has to look at themselves and look at their game. We’re not far away, but it’s that five to 10% at this level that kills you.”

The Clann nan Gael man reflected on the shock three-point defeat to the Orchard men, citing Armagh’s hunger as a major factor in the outcome.

“It was disappointing. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and that’s the way it turned out to be.

“Armagh were very, very hungry, they showed that hunger in the first half and we ended up going a man down, and it was more of a battle after that.

“But I don’t think losing a man made it any tougher for us. They were well prepared and they were very hungry for it.

“In the second half we showed that we wanted it, but it was just too late.”


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