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Full Championship Weekend

Friday 03.09.2010
Team Talk Mag

Urney took on Pomeroy in the first game last Friday evening and in the splendid sunshine of a late August evening they led their opponents by eight points at one stage in the second half with the Laffertys and Fergal Mc Nulty particularly impressive. The game seemed dead and buried until Pomeroy introduced county minors Mc Geary and Quinn. Both these lads seemed free of the shackles that had restricted their team mates throughout the game as they played with a real spirit of adventure. They inspired their team’s comeback and with thirty minutes played on the clock the Urney lead was down to a single point. Indeed Pomeroy had a great chance to level the game but the shot from left half back Ronan Mc Kenna  sailed badly wide. Urney managed to gain possession from the kick out and in a final effort stretched their lead to two points to secure their place in the last four.

Last Saturday evening’s games in Dungannon attracted a large crowd for the matches involving Kileeshil and Derrylaughan and Errigal and Coalisland. The Intermediate quarter final opened the action in a top of the table versus bottom clash. Kileeshil’s hopes were not helped by the reports of a worrying hamstring injury for county player Kevin Hughes and indeed the big bustling midfielder looked to be labouring from early in the game. Derrylaughan scored two magnificent goals in the first half which effectively ended the game as a contest. In Ciaran Gervin and Fergal Mc Aliskey they had the game’s outstanding players and both played significant parts in what was a fine team victory. The Kevin Barrys will go into the semi final in confident mood while their opponents know that they face a real battle over the next few weeks as they strive to retain their division two status. If Hub has aggravated his injury following this game their chances of avoiding the drop would appear to have been greatly reduced.

Following this game former county stars Damien O’Hagan and Peter Canavan led their sides out for a clash that all assembled were eagerly looking forward to. Errigal had enjoyed a comprehensive league win over their opponents a few weeks ago but in a one off battle like this one, league form was of little consequence. Indeed the statistics from the league table showed that there was really very little between the sides and as a result we were all expecting a fairly tight game. And so it proved.

The final margin of victory was a single point to the Fianna and the key score came nine minutes into the second half when Martin Early capitalised on indecision in the Errigal defence. This score opened up a three point lead and with the help of some excellent defending by Niall Kerr, Peter Donnelly, Patrick O’Farrell and Stephen Mc Nally, Coalisland deservedly made it through to the semi finals. Peter Harte managed to reduce the gap with two late scores but in spite of some late pressure Peter Canavan’s side exited the race for this year’s championship.

It will have come as quite a surprise to most followers of Gaelic Games within Tyrone to have seen the defeat of two of the championship’s favourites within the space of twenty four hours but neither Dromore nor Errigal merited a place in the last four. Carrickmore were outstanding on Friday night and Coalisland have shown considerable improvement under the guidance of Damien O’Hagan. Their defence in particular looks much more resolute and organised. Patrick O’Farrell was excellent on Saturday night in defence but his willingness to support the attack proved invaluable and his point in the fifty third minute proved to be the difference in the final analysis.

With Carrickmore and Coalisland through all eyes turned towards Pomeroy for the Sunday evening double bill. Killyman took on Glenelly in the curtain raiser and in a game that ebbed and flowed the East Tyrone side did just about enough to earn a place in the semi finals of the Junior Championship. There were some fine scores in that game but the highlight was Killyman corner forward Michael Donnelly’s goal early in the first half. This score helped to settle his team and with the final result showing four points between the sides, it proved to be the key score in the game. Glenelly fought manfully but apart from Kevin Mc Cullagh lacked any real scoring threat. Too many of their players played as individuals and wasted opportunities when team mates were better placed. Killyman produced a much better team performance and in centre back Emmett Hughes they had the most outstanding and creative player on the field.

This result means that Killyman are still on course for league and championship honours and with rivals Stewartstown drawn to face Brackaville in the semi finals their season is bubbling up nicely.

As Ardboe and Omagh took to the field you could almost sense a palpable change in the atmosphere among the large and expectant crowd. There was a feeling this was going to be the main event of the weekend as the other two games lacked any real championship intensity.

Myself and Paddy Hunter had the privilege of being part of a broadcasting first in Pomeroy on Sunday evening. We covered all the double header games at the weekend and faced several challenges along the way. The Omagh versus Ardboe game put us in a bit of a predicament and only for the kindness and co-operation of Mr and Mrs John Goodfellow there would have been no broadcast at all. I know many of you are probably thinking that in itself would have been no bad thing but there are at least two listeners out there, one in Trillick and one in Omagh, who depend on Paddy’s commentary to keep them informed of the comings and goings of the games. Anyway we managed to broadcast from John and Ann’s back garden and were entertained not only by the game but by the banter and craic from the friends and family who joined us for the game. The view was perfect, the weather fine and the tea and biscuits served by Ann at half time were more than well received.

As for the game, it certainly did not disappoint and referee Eugene Mc Connell had his hands full as various personal battles took place all over the field. Interestingly it was Omagh centre half back Paddy Doherty who first attracted the ref’s attention following an altercation with Brian Mc Guigan before the ball was even thrown in. Team manager Paddy Crozier withdrew his number six halfway through the first half as the big defender was in real danger of a second yellow.

Challenges were tough and uncompromising all through the game and scores and space were at a premium. The first half was lit up by Conor O’Donnell’s brilliant goal following a superb cross field pass from Cathal Mc Carron. However Ardboe refused to buckle and indeed had managed to establish a one point lead at the break. This narrow lead reflected the closeness of the teams as neither team looked capable of establishing a match winning margin.

The second half was much like the first but as the game wore on it became clear that the main difference between the sides was minor star Ronan O’Neill who scored a goal and a point for Omagh and caused consternation every time the ball was played towards him. His goal showed confidence and craft beyond his years and was worthy of winning any match and in such a tight game as this one it proved crucial in the end.

There were some unsavoury scenes late in the game as tempers flared but when a player from each side was dismissed, order was restored and the match finished as a low scoring one point win to Omagh. Rarely if ever do you get to see a championship match won with only four scores but that is what we saw on Sunday night. Ardboe played their part in a very competitive game that simmered all night. It had a real championship edge to it and kept the large crowd on their toes right to the final whistle.

This result completed the line up for the semi finals and when the draw was made after the Omagh game, the St. Endas found themselves paired with championship favourites Carrickmore in the last four while Coalisland will face Kildress in the second semi. Both these games will take place after the All Ireland Final and will be sure to draw large crowds whenever they are played.

Following a packed weekend of championship football, the only outstanding fixture remaining was the replayed Intermediate game between Newtownstewart and Strabane which took place on Monday night in Aghyaran.

The winners of this one had been drawn to play Derrylaughan and both sides were confident that they could make it through to the last four at the second time of asking. It was as good a game as the drawn match and in the first half Strabane were the more dominant side. Newtown were not helped by the sending off of their young corner forward Ryan Mayse and with an extra man advantage The Sigersons built up a healthy five point lead. Ahead eight points to three at the break, it seemed there could only be one winner.

However Finbarr Mc Connell’s side showed massive courage and spirit as they set about overturning the deficit. Driven on by Kevin Gallagher they scored one goal and three points without reply to move into a one point lead. Strabane were rattled but back they came and Martin Mc Nulty levelled the game again. Newtown continued to be wasteful in attack as they ran up a total of seven second half wides. Their bad luck continued when Kevin Gallagher’s brilliant individual ‘goal’ was disallowed for over carrying. To compound a bad situation what looked like a great save by Pascal Mc Connell when he prevented the ball from going over the bar turned into a nightmare as Strabane sub Gerard Morris pounced to finish the ball to the net. This score knocked Newtown for six and although they closed the gap to two points, time ran out on the St Eugene’s. Strabane were deserving winners in the end but know that a similar display against Derrylaughan would not be good enough in the semi final.


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