Omagh and Errigal set for gripping encounter.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Omagh and Errigal set for gripping encounter. thumbnail Omagh defender Barry Tierney in action against Strabane.

OMAGH and Errigal Ciaran have never met in a Tyrone Senior Football Championship final, but that is about to change on what will be a gripping occasion this weekend.

These famous clubs will do battle for the O'Neill Cup at Healy Park, and what a game it promises to be.

Both have displayed class, courage and resilience on their way to the Donnelly Vauxhall decider, coming through tough contests to within 60 minutes of championship glory.

A huge crowd is expected at the county ground on Sunday to witness the climax to what has been a drama-packed series, packed with shocks, comebacks, replays and dramatic finishes.

Both sides are packed with outstanding talent, and it's a game that could be won by selfless teamwork or a stroke of individual brilliance.

Omagh captain Joe McMahon will lead his side with authority, while Hugh Gallagher, Barry Tierney and Conor Meyler will give them a solid foundation, and if they can get quality ball to the front men, Ronan O'Neill, Connor O'Donnell and Conan Grugan will make it count on the scoreboard.

Errigal have their own key men, including the experienced Peter Harte and Davy Harte, who along with Mark Kavanagh can get the vital scores.

They also have the experience of Aidan McCrory, skipper Cathal McRory, Bryan Horisk and Michael McRory to take the challenge to the St Enda's.

Second stint Omagh manager Paddy Crozier is back for his second stint at the club, having taken the St Enda's as far as championship semi-finals in 2010 and 2011.

"I came here in 2010, it was a very young squad, there was about five of those fellows that are playing on the senior team and I think they were still minors - Stevie Mullan, Barry Tierney, Ronan O'Neill and Conan Grugan.

"We finished in the semi-final in 2010 and the same in 2011, but I felt I could possibly bring them across the line, so you could say it's unfinished business," he said.

The former Derry boss feels his players are in prime condition and ready to take on the challenge on Sunday afternoon.

"It seems an eternity since we started back in February, but the work that has been going on, they never stop, this bunch of players, they're near enough professional gaelic players." And Crozier is enthralled by the openness of the Tyrone championship, and its fierce competitiveness.

"It's unique this Tyrone championship. In Derry there's two or three teams, but this Tyrone championship, there's seven or eight teams can win it any given year. It's a brilliant championship to win.

"When you look at Pomeroy coming in and beating Killyclogher, and then they beat Clonoe, and Dromore getting nipped by Clonoe." The Omagh manager feels his side will have to hit top form to get the better of a resurgent Errigal Ciaran team which has re-emerged this year in spectacular fashion following a few quiet seasons.

"Errigal have been a brilliant team down through the years, they have a great tradition since they were formed.

"Everybody knows Errigal Ciaran and they haven't gone away. They were in transition there for a couple of year, but they're back with a bang.

"They're a formidable outfit, and we don't underestimate the task in front of us." And the players who will be in opposition at Healy Park on Sunday are highly familiar with each other.

"These fellows have all gone to college together , they have played minor football, they have played U21 and senior football in Tyrone, so they know each other inside out.

"It's the team that's up for it the most on the day that's going to come out winners." Omagh have the luxury of a two-week break following a hectic schedule which saw them play three games in the space of nine days.

"That was a tough, tough game against Ardboe. We had six months to prepare for that, and then the next thing, up creeps Greencastle within three days, and after that, Trillick, a very, very good team.

"We had three matches inside nine days, a lot of football, butwe have come out of it on the right side, and all our panel of players are fit and healthy.

"Footballers will tell you that there's nothing like playing matches, but that was a little bit too hectic. If you come out of it on the right side, you're okay." Toughest challenge Meanwhile, Errigal Ciaran captain Cathal McRory is preparing his side for the toughest challenge to date in what has been a challenging campaign.

"We 're expecting a very tight game, it always is between ourselves and Omagh, a one, two point game max," he said.

"We 'll be hopeful for a lot of good performances all over the field, finishing strong again, which has been our mantle all year, finishing that last ten or fifteen minutes strong, and it has been working really well all year.

"Omagh is always a serious team, with a lot of top-notch players, the likes of Ronan O'Neill, Connor O'Donnell, Conan Grugan.

"They got a great run in there in Ulster a couple of years ago, they were very unlucky when Slaughtneil just pipped them at the last, so we know we're going to be up against it." But McRory believes tough battles against Carrickmore and Pomeroy will prepare the Errigal players for another big test.

"It's always a ding-dust battle between ourselves and Carrickmore, and there's never much between the teams when we play them, league or championship, so we knew going into that game that we had to be at our best. And lucky enough we came out the right side of that result, said Errigal Ciaran captain Cathal McRory.

"And then into the Pomeroy game. You had to treat them with the utmost respect, as we did. They had beaten two big-hitters in Killyclogher and Clonoe, two teams that we have struggled with over the years in the championship.

"We had to do a serious bit of homework on them, on their strengths and weaknesses.

But thankfully again in the last ten minutes we dug in and we got over the line." Errigal have laid down solid foundations with a strong league campaign which helped them develop an effective strategy, finishing top of the Division One table to book a place in the semi-finals.

"This time last year we had a game against Strabane which we had to win to qualify for the last four, and Strabane beat us.

Sowe had to look at ourselves, have a look at where we were going.

"We did serious, serious work to get from where we were then to now. We're top of the league, but league stands for nothing, this is championship, and we want to take one more step and win it."


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