The Tyrone senior championship began with a bang at O’Neills Healy Park on Thursday night when Dungannon overcame Trillick in a pulsating opening LCC encounter.
The 2020 champions were full value for their win against the 2019 kingpins with goals proving to be the difference on a night when both sides scored eleven times. There is no doubt that the St.Macartans were the better side in the opening twenty minutes as they established a 0-4 to 0-0 lead but in truth they could have been in front by twice as much as the Clarkes looked sluggish and were slow to get going.
James Garrity opened the scoring in the 3rd minute and a trio of frees from Lee Brennan had Trillick well placed. Rory Brennan, who was Trillick’s best player on the night, took a number of eye catching catches to keep Dungannon at bay early on. Trillick could have got in for a goal but a Lee Brennan shot was deflected out for a “45” by Dungannon Captain David Walsh. In the 21st minute the Clarkes opened their account when Paul Donaghy cut in from the left wing to hit a beauty and straight from the kick out the ball went to Dalaigh Jones and he made no mistake with his finish to level matters.
The pace and running of the Jones brothers Ryan and Dalaigh was causing Trillick problems and Donaghy put the winners in front. Dungannon were able to vary their play as well and that was reflected in the 31st minute when a long delivery in from Ben Gormley was brilliantly fielded by Paddy Quinn who hit the ground before running through to blast to the net to leave it 2-2 to 0-4 at the break.
Both sides missed chances on the restart before Trillick started to come back into the contest. Halftime substitute Sean O’Donnell took a fine individual point before Brennan knocked over a free. Dalaigh Jones then landed the score of the game from out on the left wing but back came Trillick with points from Simon Garrity, Lee Brennan and Rory Brennan to leave it all square at 2-3 to 0-6 by the 42nd minute.
Crucially though Trillick couldn’t get their noses in front and the Clarkes didn’t panic with Donaghy putting them back in front. Midfielder Kevin Barker then drilled over a score before the winners grabbed goal number three in the 47th minute when great work along the end line from Donaghy saw him cut the ball back to defender Darragh Skeffington who finished with aplomb.
Halftime substitute Richie Donnelly took a fine score before midfielder Liam Gray split the posts from forty metres out to reduce the deficit in the 51st minute. That proved to be their last score though as Dungannon showed great composure to see the game out with centre half back Ciaran Barker knocking over two long range frees after Quinn had hit a great score from play.
Dungannon: Daire Martin, Darragh Skeffington (1-0), David Walsh, Ben Gormley, Conall Devlin, Ciaran Barker (0-2, 2F), Mark McKearney, Connor McKee, Kevin Barker (0-1), Dalaigh Jones (1-1), Lorcan Mallon, Ryan Jones, Patrick Molloy, Patrick Quinn (1-1), Paul Donaghy (0-3). Subs: Oran Mallon for McKee, Oisin Cowan for Molloy, Patrick McKearney for Skeffington
Trillick: Joe Maguire, Stephen O’Donnell, Ruairi Kelly, Daire Gallagher, Daniel Donnelly, Rory Brennan (0-1), Michael Gallagher, Darragh McQuaid, Liam Gray (0-1), Mattie Donnelly, Ryan Gray, James Garrity (0-1), Simon Garrity (0-1), Lee Brennan (0-5, 5F), Ciaran Daly. Subs: Richie Donnelly (0-1) for Ryan Gray, Sean O’Donnell (0-1) for Daly, Niall Donnelly for James Garrity, Peter McCaughey for Kelly