All-Ireland Minor Champions, 1973

The fruits of this renewal at the highest level were slow to emerge, and most of the success in the 1970s came at minor level. Ulster minor championship victories in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1978 – an impressive six titles in eight years – represented a record of provincial dominance unequalled by Tyrone teams at this or any other level. Sadly, it yielded only one All-Ireland crown, in 1973, when Tyrone beat Kildare by 2-11 to 1-6 at Croke Park – the county’s third All-Ireland minor triumph and its first since that of 1948.

There was further success at under-age level when Tyrone’s under-21 team made their first breakthrough in Ulster, winning in 1972 and 1973, though the All-Ireland title eluded them on both occasions.

Under-age achievement naturally fuelled expectations of senior glory, and the first Ulster championship victory since 1957 came in 1973 with a 3-11 to 1-11 defeat of Down. However, Tyrone made little impact against a great Cork side in the All-Ireland semi-final and little impact on the Ulster championship for the remainder of the decade.

Structurally, the Association continued to reform and renew. The all-county league, established in 1969 for senior clubs, was extended to all clubs in 1975. Further ground improvements were carried out throughout the county and a new generation of administrative leaders took over the reins from Paddy O’Neill when he stepped down in 1976 after twenty-seven years of tireless work in steering the affairs of the GAA in Tyrone. A much greater emphasis was placed on communications. The county authorities rose to the challenge of the new emphasis being placed on social and cultural activities such as the Scór competitions.

Institutionally, the GAA in Tyrone was now stronger than ever, but the ultimate success on the field of play remained as elusive as ever.