SO many stories spring to mind when John Early begins recalling his footballing career with Tyrone.
Memories of the time he scored 2-4 in an All-Ireland Final at Croke Park. Or the one about how he met Billy Morgan decades after his Cork team handed the Red Hands a harsh lesson in the 1973 All-Ireland semi-final. The Coalisland clubman was smaller in height than many players of the time. But he was more than capable of looking after himself in the rough and tumble of county football in the 60s and 70s.
Evidence of that is clear from the statistics and headlines stretching back half a century. He represented Tyrone at senior level from 1969 until 1973 when he decided to retire. He was one of their top scorers throughout that time and was often hailed for his top-notch displays.
That season marked the culmination of years of improvement for the county. It had been a spell sparked by the All-Ireland Junior title win of 1968 in which he had played such a prominent role.
By the early seventies he was an integral part of the county set-up. His ability to get scores at crucial times was key in a team that included greats like Frank McGuigan, Brendan Dolan, Peter Mulgrew, Brendan Donnelly and Pat King.
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