Coalisland sealed their eighth Tyrone senior championship title and their first in twenty years when they upset the odds with a fully deserved victory over favourites Carrickmore in Sunday’s final at Healy Park Omagh.
It was a close contest throughout with both defences on top and that resulted in a low scoring and scrappy affair. Coalisland though were worthy winners and they go forward to meet Fermanagh champions Roslea at the same venue this Sunday afternoon. Former Tyrone player Peter Donnelly was a rock at the heart of the winners defence ably assisted by Steven McNally and Paddy O’Farrell while Peter McGahan had a superb game in the middle of the field on Tyrone star Conor Gormley in what was his first start in this year’s championship.
Both sides were slow to settle and that was reflected on the scoreboard with a Paddy McNeice free for Coalisland the only score in the opening dozen minutes. Coalisland captain Plunkett Kane then cut in from the right wing to take a fine point and that was quickly followed by another well taken effort from McNeice. Carrickmore had to wait a full twenty minutes to trouble the umpires with Barry Daly converting a free before Finbar Magill narrowed the gap further with a superb effort from play. In the closing moments of the half McNeice and Kevin McNally exchanged points from frees as Coalisland led 0-4 to 0-3 at half time.
Another McNally point from play drew Carrickmore level on the restart but the St.Colmcilles could never get their noses in front. McNeice scored twice with the Toner brothers Brian and Philip also on target with Carrickmore’s sole reply coming from a Daly free as the Fianna established a 0-8 to 0-5 advantage. Carrickmore captain McNally then hit his third point of the afternoon but Coalisland responded almost immediately with Brian Toner on target. The closing ten minutes saw Carrickmore exert a spell of pressure but they wasted a couple of chances from frees. Corner forward Finbar Magill did pop up with a quality effort from play but in a frantic finish the Coalisland defence stood firm as the Fianna claimed the O’Neill Cup.
Carrickmore – P McCallan, P Daly, C McGurk, B McLaughlin, P Hughes, C McAleer, P Cunningham, C Gormley, N Loughran, C Daly, B Daly [0-2], P McMahon, K McNally [0-3], M Donnelly, F Magill [0-2]. Subs –G McCallan for McMahon, M McCallan for P Hughes
Coalisland – J Curran, L O’Neill, P Donnelly, L Wylie, S McNally, N Kerr, P O’Farrell, P McGahan, P Toner [0-1], P Kane [0-1], B Toner [0-3], S Curran, P McNeice [0-4], T O’Hagan, G Toner. Subs – M Early for Kane, D Thornton for O’Hagan, C Bayne for G Toner