RIP Mick O’Neill – Cushendun legend

The Gaels of Cushenun Emmet’s are in mourning today following the death of one of their greatest hurlers Mick O’Neill. Unconventional and at times withdrawn, the humble genius could have hurled in any era. Full of skill and as tough as they come. he took the knocks…and gave them when needed, during a career which spanned almost four decades. He gave so much for that green and black jersey, hurling right up into his fifties. We included two tributes, one from former county chairman Dr John McSparran, a former team mate of the great man, and one which the Emmet’s club posted on Facebook.

Former county chairman John McSparran posted this tribute when he heard the news.

Mick O’Neill at the Cushenun Gala dinner in 2004.

John McSparran

I posted this photo just a few weeks ago as part of my top 10 of the people I most admired in sport. Sadly, Mick O’Neill on the right in this photo passed away suddenly this morning. In my mind, he was the most skilful hurler I ever saw or had the privilege of playing with. Probably the pinnacle of his hurling career was lifting this trophy (Frank Corr Cup) with Dan McKeegan after winning the Intermediate Championship in 1973. However, he hurled right into his 50s, finishing up as goalkeeper and even in this position he was unrivalled. He just lived for the game and latterly farming in Glendun. He was a shy and most introverted character which explains why he never consistently hurled for the Antrim senior team.Nonetheless he is a hero to many of us in Cushendun. I sat with him in his van watching many matches from the ‘top pitch’ in recent years. His insight on the game was remarkable and he could easily spot individual problems or faults long before anyone else could see it. He has now joined many other greats of the game in eternity.Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

Cushendun Emmet’s GAC

Mick O Neill R.I.P Everyone associated with the club are saddened to learn of the passing of the late great Mick O Neill this morning. The younger generation of hurlers will not recall Mick in his glory days but it is fair to say he was one of the best if not THE best exponent of the game we ever had and his many skilful performances will be remembered for years in the clubHe was a midfielder par excellence and the highlight of his career was surely being the top Scorer when the Emmets lifted the 1973 Intermediate Championship. As with all great sportsmen he never really retired and at the age of 50 won his final medal, a Junior feis Championship. When the time came to slow down a bit, he took up the position of goalkeeper and was our number one right up until 1988.Mick was selected to play at midfield for both Antrim and Ulster , however he wasn’t that fussed on the travelling and all the hullaballoo that went with County teams etc so he concentrated on club hurling for most of his career. His trademark long hair and headband will be fondly remembered by all who were lucky enough to have played with him or watched him during his illustrious career.We send our condolences to the O Neill family at this time.Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

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