Double success for Tyrone in the Ulster Club series with wins for Coalisland and Derrylaughan in the Senior and Intermediate Championships today. Coalisland put the disappointment of not getting to play at Annagher behind them to claim the scalp of Fermanagh Champions Roslea in a very competitive game in Healy Park Omagh. Damien O’Hagan’s side showed considerable resolve and character to earn a deserved three point victory in a game that was close and intense throughout. However it took a fantastic fingertip save from Coalisland keeper Johnny Curran right at the death to ensure that his side made it through to the last four.
There had been some speculation leading up to the game that Coalisland’s celebrations of the past week might take a heavy toll on the team. However when the lineout was announced there was much more concern about the absence of key defender Paddy O’Farrell due to a hamstring injury sustained at training on Friday night. O’Farrell has been his team’s standout player all year but fortunately for Coalisland his replacement Conor Bayne had a solid game and Stephen Mc Nally took on the mantle of creator in chief from defence.
The first half was a fairly even affair and with thirty minutes played Roslea led by a point having come from two down after the opening ten minutes. It looked like Peter Mc Ginnity’s side just might make it to the break ahead on the scoreboard. However a fortuitous shot from Philip Toner hung long enough in the air to trouble Roslea goalkeeper Sean Boyle and when the ball broke in the square Fianna full forward Tiarnan O’Hagan pounced to finish to the net. This timely score meant Coalisland went into the break ahead by two and on the balance of play it was just about a deserved lead.
The second half was every bit as close as the first with Roslea refusing to give up as they fought and harried for every ball across the field. A Sean Quigley goal on thirty six minutes followed by two points from his brother Seamus edged the Fermanagh champions ahead and Coalisland were facing possible exit from the Ulster Club series. With less than fifteen minutes remaining and the game entering a crucial phase this was going to be a serious test of the East Tyrone men’s resolve.
Fortunately they responded to their manager’s promptings and when Tiarnan O’Hagan knocked over a marvellous point to put his side ahead hopes of victory rose again. However as they had shown all year Roslea refused to give up and with big full forward Quigley leading the line the game was level as we entered the final five minutes of play. Then came the incident that played a key role in deciding the outcome of the match when Roslea centre half forward Niall Cassidy received a second yellow card and his marching orders. With their opponents now reduced to fourteen men, Coaisland made a push for home and late scores from Philip Toner and sub Dermot Thornton extended their lead to what looked like a comfortable three points. Credit to Roslea as back they came again and with virtually the last kick of the game they almost snatched a draw when a fantastic shot from Liam Lynch was turned onto the crossbar by Johnny Curran in the Coalisland goal. Once again the Fianna custodian displayed excellent reflexes to keep his team ahead.
The Fianna had survived the Fermanagh onslaught and had managed to make it through to the semi final of the Ulster Club. They can now turn their attentions to facing a Glenties side managed by Kildress native Cathal Corey. Wins like today’s do wonders for the confidence of any team and Coalisland will go into that game in confident mood. Hopefully they will be further strengthened by the return of key defender Paddy O’Farrell from injury.
While Coalisland were warming down in Omagh their near neighbours Derrylaughan were edging ahead in a very exciting game in Breffni Park against Drumalee of Cavan. The Kevin Barrys came from five points down at the break to take the game into extra time. The Tyrone side completely dominated for the remainder of the game with their greater fitness and individual talent proving the difference as they eased to a five point win.