Dungannon Clarkes lost out to Strabane on Sunday in the final playoff game of the season. It was not so much that they lost but the manner of the defeat which was most disappointing for all those who had worked so hard to get them to this position. The former East Tyrone big guns had come into this match in confident mood after great wins over Aghaloo and Brockagh. However they were up against a much bigger and stronger opponent on Sunday who has been playing at a higher level all year and that ultimately proved the difference.
Credit to Strabane for the manner in which they played but their opponents made it a much less challenging task on the day because for long periods of the game they just failed to get to the pace of it. The Clarkes’ more experienced players struggled to exert any influence over the game and Terry Mc Intosh, Declan Treanor and Ger Cavlan were, for the most part, peripheral figures. Things did improve slightly with the introduction of future stars Kiefer Morgan and Sean Molloy but overall Dungannon failed to match the hunger and desire of their more experienced and better organised opponents.
Sunday’s defeat will have come as a bitter blow to Shay Mc Keown and Gary Mc Conville after all the work they have put in with this group. However they should be looking at the positives from their run to the play off final and rather than getting hung up about not winning promotion focus on the young talent they have coming through and the experience they have gained this year.
Losing on Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow but the lessons the team has learned from being there and the pain of defeat should stand to them next year. If they adopt the right attitude towards it they will come back bigger, stronger and better for it and look back at last Sunday as the day they began their climb back to senior football.