Tyrone fanatic Ciarán McAleer walked tall as he savoured his proudest moment by leading the Tyrone team out for their Allianz Football League clash with Kerry at the weekend.
The teenager’s courageous steps, hand in hand with his Red Hand heroes Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte, represented massive progress towards his dream to be able to walk independently.
Fourteen-year-old Ciaran suffers from a severe Brittle Bone condition which necessitates the use of a wheelchair.
Throughout his life, he has suffered multiple fractures and undergone several operations, with rods and plates inserted to help strengthen his legs.
Through his courage and determination, he has continued to dedicate himself to his ambition to walk unaided, a process that will require further surgery.
The teenager received rapturous applause and a standing ovation from the big Healy Park crowd, who warmed to his unique story of personal courage and dedication to the sport he loves.
A student at St Ciaran’s College in Ballygawley and a member of Errigal Ciaran GAC, he has been appointed as captain of several under-age teams at the club, where he is renowned for his unwavering support and succinct post-match analysis.
One of the club’s great characters, he operates the scoreboard at Dunmoyle on match-days and keeps club colleagues entertained and informed with his knowledge and insightful understanding of the game.
“Everyone concerned, from the county board to the Tyrone management team, were only too happy to make this happen for Ciarán,” said county PRO Eugene McConnell.
“He never misses a Tyrone game, and what better occasion to lead out the team than the final National League game of the season against Kerry.” McConnell added: “It just worked out perfectly that his progress allowed him to take those defining steps, and hopefully there will be many more to follow.
“Everybody involved had the one aim and the sole ambition, and that was to allow Ciarán to fulfil his dream.
“The round of applause was deafening around the ground when he emerged from the tunnel with the team behind him, a heart-warming experience for everybody present.”
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