Mattie Donnelly and Mickey Harte make the same vow at rousing Tyrone homecoming 4 years ago

Mattie Donnelly and Mickey Harte make the same vow at rousing Tyrone homecoming

"We had a great homecoming in 2003. We had a better one in 2005, but I think 2008 surpasses them all!" - Brian Dooher, Tyrone captain, 2008.

10 years on from Dooher's homecoming speech at Healy Park, Tyrone returned from another All-Ireland final but without the Sam Maguire. Still, there were reasons to be cheerful. Hopeful too.

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Mickey Harte could not lead his county back to the promised land as they fell short against a superior Dublin side. Tyrone gave it a rattle but a cost four-minute spell, where they conceded 1-3, and their wide count (16 misses to Dublin's 6) ultimately saw their challenge fade away.

Men and women from the Red Hand County filtered back home on Monday after their trip to Croke Park, and the Tyrone team was not far behind. These players, and coaches, needed a lift and they were not disappointed.

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In Aughnacloy and at Healy Park, they were welcomed back with open arms and loud cheers. Having been eliminated in cowing fashion last year, this time out it was a Tyrone team that died with their boots.

At that final stop, in Omagh, fans packed into the venue were entertained by Ronan O'Neill and Declan McClure dancing on stage and Ronan McNamee cracking wise.

There was an uplifting them to the night, with Tyrone chairman Mickey Kerr insisting this squad of players have what it takes to win the Sam Maguire. Harte then stepped forward and, as reported by the Ulster Herald, spoke glowingly of his squad of players, support staff and of the Tyrone fans. He said:

"There's a lot of special young men here who want to have that trophy in the future. There's no guarantee on anything in life but if I'd put my money on anyone to do this in the near future, I'd put it on us.

"I've been fortunate to enjoy banquets where the cup was there and people were happy, but despite the defeat people were very upbeat, positive and good to be around.

"They have given us all the support in the world and that means an awful lot. Thank you for being here tonight because that means you're endorsing what we're about." 

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Captain Mattie Donnelly was up next and he encouraged the supporters to keep the faith, and vowed that he and his teammates would be doing all they could to go one step further in 2019.

You can expect Harte and Donnelly to be back at it again next year, and you can rest assured that the Tyrone faithful will be fully behind them.

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