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Page last updated at 19:51 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 20:51 UK

Tyrone make triumphant homecoming

Tyrone's Brian Dooher with the Sam Maguire trophy
Tyrone's Brian Dooher with the Sam Maguire trophy in Aughnacloy

Several thousand Tyrone fans turned out in Aughnacloy and Omagh on Monday night to welcome home the new All-Ireland football champions.

Sunday's triumph over Kerry was loudly acclaimed as supporters made their delight clear to the returning heroes.

When the team arrived in an open-topped bus, boss Mickey Harte said he wanted to see Tyrone successfully defend the Sam Maguire this time.

They failed to do that after their triumphs of 2003 and 2005.

"It is great to be back here, and great to get a reception of this nature," said Harte.

"It shows that there is a great desire for success in this county, and as you know, there is a great desire for success in these players.

Mickey Harte and Brian Dooher hold the trophy aloft
Mickey Harte and Brian Dooher hold the trophy aloft

"That is why we get the occasion to come together here every couple of years. Now the ambition is to make it every year, not every couple of years."

The crowd observed a minute's silence in memory of John Devine senior, whose death on Saturday caused goalkeeper John junior to miss the All-Ireland final.

And in a further mark of respect, a planned stop in Ballygawley, home of the Devine family, was cancelled.

Mickey Harte and Enda McGinley are also from Ballygawley, and are clubmates of John Devine at Errigal Ciaran.

The final leg of the mini-tour of the county brought the team coach to Healy Park in Omagh, the place where Tyrone's Ulster Championship challenge started to fall apart earlier this summer.

This was the scene of the Red Hands' Anglo-Celt Cup draw with Down, who subsequently won the replay at Pairc Esler.

Tyrone players Owen Mulligan and Joe McMahon
Owen Mulligan and Joe McMahon enjoy the celebrations

From the wreckage of that dismal day in the Marshes, manager Harte somehow found a way to renew the spirit within the souls of his players, and a remarkable journey ended in stunning success in Dublin on Sunday.

Healy Park and its inhabitants rejoiced at the awesome accomplishment of the newly crowned All-Ireland champions, and in particular at the huge role played by Omagh's own McMahon brothers, Joe and Justin.

Team captain Brian Dooher told the fans he could scarcely believe that Tyrone had achieved another All-Ireland title, their third in the space of just six seasons.

"On behalf of this Tyrone team I would like to thank you for all your support throughout the year, especially you people who have followed us from the Down match on.

"Early on in May, things did not look so good, but thankfully the boys stuck at it.

"It is hard to believe we are back here again, and we have a lot of people to thank for it, Mickey Harte amongst others."

see also
Kerry 0-14 1-15 Tyrone
21 Sep 08 |  Gaelic Games
Cavanagh rounds on Tyrone critics
21 Sep 08 |  Gaelic Games
All-Ireland final as it happened
21 Sep 08 |  Gaelic Games

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