Traffic jams on the way into Pomeroy meant a fifteen minute delay to the start of the second senior championship semi final. We had travelled up to the match in good time and I had been hoping to catch some of the junior reserve championship game between Dungannon and Brackaville but in spite of the best efforts of the Pomeroy stewards
we missed that game completely. There was a significant line of traffic on the entrance to Pomeroy from the Carrickmore side even at that stage and it came as no surprise to hear that the start of the game had been put back.
The lead up to the game had been dominated by Omagh’s appeal to the DRA and judging by some of the comments I heard over the weekend it was clear that opinion on the validity of their appeal was certainly split. The appeal itself eventually failed and Paddy Crozier was forced to field a team lacking several key men including county star Justin Mc Mahon who had received a red card in the last game against Ardboe.
The match turned out to be a really close and entertaining affair. Omagh began the game in confident manner and with county minor Ronan O’Neill in scintillating form they dominated the opening stages. However Carrickmore, who appeared hesitant and flat at the start of the game rallied and found their shooting boots with corner forward Kevin Mc Nally leading the way. By half time the favourites had managed to sneak ahead but can count themselves lucky to have been in the lead after a smashing Omagh move saw Conor Clarke’s rocket of a shot come crashing back off the bar early in the first half. Had that gone in at the time it would have given Paddy Crozier’s side a five
point lead which in such a tight game could have been too much to claw back.
The second half was just as close with Omagh’s defence receiving a stern examination as Carrickmore went for the jugular. Colm Mc Gurk and Niall Loughran were doing all they could to drive their team mates forward and with Conor Gormley becoming more prominent the favourites moved into a two point lead. However Omagh still looked threatening on the break and county minors O’Neill and Grugan were causing major headaches for the Carmen defence with their movement and pace. Indeed the men in white and black came close to winning the game when O’Neill and Joe Mc Mahon combined to create a late goal scoring chance that was brilliantly saved by big Plunkett Mc Callan in the Carrickmore goal.
There was little or nothing between the sides as both fought tooth and nail to find the winner and although a draw was a fair result Carrickmore will regret the couple of late chances that were missed and in particular Finbarr Magill’s late frees.
It was interesting to hear the range of views expressed at the conclusion of the game as both sets of supporters gave vent to their frustrations. Fingers were pointed at the referee, the managers and in some cases even the players but in my view neither team had done enough to win and both deserved a second chance. It was a very close old fashioned championship game where defences dominated and with the exception of Ronan O’Neill, the most impressive players on view were defenders. Carrickmore were missing big midfielder Gabriel Mc Callan and his absence was sorely felt as Conal Mc Elhome and Conor Starrs dominated the midfield exchanges for most of the game.
The replay will take place this Saturday in Pomeroy at three o’clock and I would expect another large crowd to show up for this one. Hopefully there won’t any travel hold ups on Saturday and we can look forward to another close and entertaining game as these sides battle it out to see who will join Coalisland Fianna in this year’s Target Express Senior Championship.