Stephen O'Neill

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This article is about the Irish footballer. For other people with the same name, see Steve O'Neill (disambiguation).
Stephen O'Néill
Stephen O'Neill - All-Ireland Semi-final 2005.jpg
Personal information
Irish name Stiofán Ó Néill
Sport Gaelic football
Position Corner Forward
Born (1980-11-19) 19 November 1980 (age 36)
Strabane, Tyrone
Height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Occupation Primary School Teacher
Years Club
1997– Clann na nGael
Years County Apps (scores)
1999– Tyrone 30 (7–114)
Inter-county titles
Ulster titles 5
All-Irelands 3
All Stars 3

Stephen O'Neill (born 19 November 1980) is a Gaelic footballer from Aughabrack, Northern Ireland, who plays for the Tyrone senior football team. He won three All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals, two Under 21 medals, and a Minor medal. He was the 2005 All Stars Footballer of the Year, and won All Stars Awards in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

His style of play is quite traditional as a full forward, often getting on the end of passes, and scoring with his preferred left foot. It's his superior physical strength that sets him apart from his peers, coupled with his agility on the ball, making him very difficult to mark.

O'Neill announced his retirement from the Tyrone Gaelic football team in January 2008,[1][2] but made himself available for the All-Ireland final of the same year. Tyrone won the competition, but O'Neill refused to accept the medal, citing the fact that he felt he had not earned it, having not been part of the team on their journey to the final.[3]

Personal life[edit]

O'Neill is a primary four school teacher at St. Mary's Primary School in Killyclogher, County Tyrone.[4] He previously taught at St. Mary's Primary School in Bellaghy, County Londonderry. O'Neill married Phenah McSorley from Aghyaran, County Tyrone on 9 July 2009.

Playing career[edit]

Youth player[edit]

O'Neill has had considerable success with Tyrone youth teams winning 2 Ulster and All-Ireland under 21 titles in 2000 and 2001 to add to his Ulster Minor championship medals in 1997 and 1998 and his All-Ireland minor championship in 1998.


O'Neill burst on to the senior county scene and by 2001 had won an Ulster title and the first of his three All Star Awards. During his time with Tyrone he was first choice penalty taker – scoring three in the run up to Tyrone's 2005 All-Ireland victory,[5][6] and also shared free-taking duty with Eoin Mulligan—usually dictated by who is kicking on their stronger side.

O'Neill won All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals with Tyrone in 2003 and 2005, and the National Football League in Tyrone's break-through year of 2002, and again in 2003. Serious injury ruled him out for much of Tyrone's unsuccessful 2006 championship.

He won an All Stars Award in 2001 and 2005. In 2005, he was won a clean sweep of the Texaco award, the Gaelic player's award and the Vodafone award for Footballer of the Year, after a monumental year where he scored a total of 64 points (5–49). These performances earned him a place in the Irish team in the international rules series for 2005 against Australia.

Retirement and return[edit]

Following two years where he was blighted by recurring injuries, O'Neill agreed to undergo surgery before the end of 2007 to resolve a complex knee tendinitis condition. It was hoped that this would make him fully fit for the 2008 Championship, but he is now retiring from county football at the young age of 27.[7]

However, on 4 September 2008, it was announced that O'Neill would be available for selection for the All-Ireland final, following the approval of the other panel players who had reached the final without his contributions.[8] This was despite the fact that a mere two days earlier he had gone on record denying a return, suggesting that his long absence would affect his match-sharpness.[9]

O'Neill's return to action came earlier than many expected during the 2008 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final, as a 25th minute sub for the injured Colm McCullagh. Although he failed to register a score he caused the Kerry defence a number of problems and helped Tyrone to their third Senior Football Championship win in six years. Despite being entitled to one, O'Neill refused to accept his winner's medal, saying that he "did not earn" it.[3] He was visibly upset as he was climbing the steps to be presented the trophy, and had to be consoled by teammates, such as Conor Gormley.

O'Neill helped Tyrone win another Ulster Championship in 2009, beating Antrim in the final, collecting an end of season All Stars Award, his third.

O'Neill dislocated his elbow in the final of the 2010 Dr. McKenna Cup, which Tyrone lost to Donegal.[10][11]



Stephen's home club is Clan na Gael in Aughabrack. With the side he has won one Tyrone Junior Championship and one Tyrone Intermediate Championship.


  1. ^ O'Neill calls time on inter-county career, 
  2. ^ Paul McConville (25 January 2008), O'Neill hangs up his boots, The Irish News, retrieved 25 January 2008 
  3. ^ a b O'Neill 'will not accept' medal, BBC Sport, 27 November 2008, retrieved 27 November 2008 
  4. ^ Rusk, Diana (10 July 2009). "Tyrone players turn out for O'Neill match". The Irish News. p. 6. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Jim O'Sullivan (22 September 2005). "O'Neill happy to spearhead Tyrone's assault on the Kingdom". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Francis Mooney (26 June 2005). "GAA: VANTASY". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 22 January 2008. 
  7. ^ Harte determined to take a positive view, Hogan Stand Magazine, 21 January 2008, retrieved 22 January 2008 
  8. ^ O'Neill returns for Tyrone, Hogan Stand Magazine, 4 September 2008, retrieved 5 September 2008 
  9. ^ O'Neill cites Kerry as ultimate test, Hogan Stand Magazine, 2 September 2008, retrieved 5 September 2008 
  10. ^ "O'Neill out for six weeks with elbow injury". RTÉ Sport. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  11. ^ "O'Neill now faces eight-week lay-off". RTÉ Sport. 2 February 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Browne, PJ (26 May 2013). "Stephen O'Neill Just Ran into A Brick Wall". Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  13. ^ McNulty, Chris (May 2013). "Report: Donegal deliver emphatic message". Donegal News. Retrieved May 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]