GAA Football

Meyler and McKernan latest duo off to the States

Armagh's Jarly Óg Burns and Tyrone's Conor Meyler in action during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round One at the Athletic Grounds. Pic by Philip Walsh.
Francis Mooney and Cahair O'Kane

Tyrone stars Conor Meyler and Michael McKernan are set to spend the summer playing football in the USA.

The All-Ireland champions' early exit from the race for Sam has opened up a rare opportunity for travel, and the pair will line out for Chicago Parnell's.

Other members of the Red Hand squad are also understood to be planning to head Stateside in the weeks ahead.

The loss of the duo will be felt by their respective clubs.

Meyler's departure is a blow to Omagh's League challenge. They currently top the Division One table with four wins from four.

McKernan's Coalisland have had a more difficult start to the campaign, losing their opening-day 2021 county final repeat to Dromore by a point, and securing a single win over Derrylaughan from their first four games.

But they both will be due back in time for the Championship, which is not expected to start until September.

Coalisland will face a stern first round examination against Carrickmore, while Omagh are set to face Ardboe.

The county players returned to action with their clubs last weekend, less than a week after Armagh brought their All-Ireland defence to a halt with a Qualifier win at the Athletic Grounds.

In recent seasons, Tyrone players were unavailable to their clubs for nine ‘starred' games.

This year, that number was reduced to five due to the earlier start to the inter-county Championship, but the Red Hands stars have actually missed only three games with their clubs, due to their early exit from the All-Ireland series.

Meyler made his first appearance of the season for Omagh at the weekend, turning in a commanding performance at centre back as they saw off Clonoe by 1-10 to 1-5 at O'Neills Healy Park.

“Four out of four is what we were hoping for, but at this stage of the year, you're never really happy with how you play,” said Larry Strain, now in his second stint as Omagh manager, having guided the club to a county title and to the Ulster Club final in 2014, losing by a point to Slaughtneil.

“We're thrilled to have four out of four, but we need to be improving week on week, but it's a funny time, with lads away on holidays and stag parties and stuff. But there are loads of players getting game time, so that's good too.”

The Tyrone duo join a host of big names from Ulster departing for the States this summer.

Ciaran McFaul left the Derry panel ahead of their victorious Ulster Championship campaign, and the Glen man arrived in America last week.

All-Ireland club champions Kilcoo will have to work without key trio Ceilum Doherty, Ryan Johnston and Dylan Ward, all of whom are also bound for Chicago to the same club as Meyler and McKernan.

Elsewhere in Down, Conor McCrickard has transferred back to his native Liatroim after a successful spell with Cork outfit St Finbarr's.

McCrickard was central to Finbarr's run to a Munster title last year and played against Kilcoo in a memorable All-Ireland semi-final that went to extra-time before the Down champions squeezed through.

Fermanagh defender Lee Cullen has also returned to Belnaleck from Penrith Gaels in Sydney.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

GAA Football