STEPHEN O’Neill has reunited with Mickey Harte and joined the Tyrone backroom team for the 2018 season.
The Strabane Chronicle can confirm the veracity of rumours that the triple All-Ireland winner has been welcomed on board ahead of the McKenna Cup, which throws in on January 3.
The 37-year-old, who is still producing the goods for his club Clann na nGael, could prove a canny investment considering Tyrone’s attacking impotency against Dublin in their ill-fated All-Ireland semi-final on August 27.
It is further understood that the Killyclogher-based school teacher will not necessarily attend every single training session over the course of the new season.
O’Neill won a host of accolades during his playing days before announcing his intercounty retirement in 2014 after 14 years of service at senior level.
He retired with three All-Irelands, five provincial medals and three All-Stars, as well as picking up the 2005 Footballer of the Year award after scoring 5-49 in Tyrone’s ten-game odyssey to a second All-Ireland title.
O’Neill is now the third member of Tyrone’s famous noughties side to have joined Mickey Harte behind the white lines.
Amid speculation over his future involvement, strength and conditioning coach Peter Donnelly has committed to a fourth season after negotiating the terms of a new contract.
Donnelly is held in the highest esteem and concern had been raised that the Coalisland man would be snapped up by another team, or indeed another sport.
Gavin Devlin has also thrown his lot in for a sixth year. He too considered stepping away but it is understood that he was convinced into staying by long-serving Tyrone boss Mickey Harte.
During his time as assistant manager, Tyrone have picked up two Ulster titles (2016 and 2017), as well as reaching the All-Ireland semis on three occasions (2013, 2015 and 2017).
Mickey Harte has also recruited three rookie players to the Tyrone panel; Ciaran McLaughlin (Omagh), Brendan Burns (Pomeroy) and Michael McKernan (Coalisland), while a new team captain is set to be announced shortly.