Coalisland get revenge over Killyclogher to claim Tyrone SFC honours
LCC Tyrone Senior Football Championship final: Coalisland Fianna 2-11 St Mary’s, Killyclogher 1-7
JOY after heartache. Damian O’Hagan revealed that his return to management with his club Coalisland only came about because of the sudden death earlier this year of his close friend Joey McNeice.
The latter worked alongside O’Hagan and Peter Herron when the Fianna last triumphed in Tyrone eight years ago and his passing was a factor in that duo getting involved again.
“I probably never would have got involved in this team only for his death,” said O’Hagan.
“And another great friend, Cyril Shields hadn’t been feeling well, and Cyril played a bit of a guilt trip on me and kept at me to get involved. Then I talked to Peter [Herron] and we got involved.
“The team had lost five games [in the league] but I never had any doubt that there was any problem in keeping them up. I knew it was a matter of confidence. I knew the potential in the team, and the younger players have all matured from 2016.”
Coalisland lost the final replay to Killyclogher two years ago by 14 points but turned that – and this match around – to record a seven-point success.
Fittingly, the decisive goal was scored by Joey’s son Paddy, who ended up as top scorer on the day with 1-3. Two minutes after his scrambled effort levelled matters at 1-6 apiece, Peter McGahan scored a superb second major the Fianna, and they raced clear to an ultimately comfortable win.
An emotional O’Hagan added: “Joey’s looking down on us today. I was at his grave this morning, I went to him every Sunday before we played – and, by God, we needed him against Edendork!”
That was a reference to their comeback victory over their neighbours in the last four. Battling back from adversity is a trait of this Coalisland side, as well as sons making their fathers proud, with both O’Hagan and Herron having offspring in the line-up:
“I’m over the moon for the team – and Cormac being involved, my son, and Peter Herron’s son [also Peter], sometimes it’s not easy.
“I’m over the moon for Cormac because he has taken a lot of setbacks from different management teams, who were not fit to see his potential. I saw it today and I was over the moon, and that’s a personal thing.”
However, unprompted, O’Hagan had praised the preceding management team, who had taken Coalisland to that county final and replay two years ago:
“To come back and win the championship this year is absolutely unbelievable.
“From where we were at the start of the year, no harm to the former management – and I’d like to thank John McKeever and Conleith Gilligan, because they put in a serious effort with Coalisland Fianna.
“It was just that the thing went the wrong road a wee bit on them. There’s no hard feelings whatsoever. I put this result down as much to them as the likes of Peter Herron, Jarlath O’Hagan and myself”.
And to Joey McNeice.