GAA Football

Clonoe players must deal with last year's loss: Damian Cassidy

Clonoe manager Damian Cassidy  
Francis Mooney

CLONOE manager Damian Cassidy has asked his players to individually process their thoughts, negative and positive, on last year’s Tyrone SFC loss to Coalisland.

Cassidy believes each man must deal with it in his own way in order to properly prepare for this weekend’s semi-final, when the sides meet at Edendork. Derby defeats are notoriously difficult to stomach, particularly when the rivalry is as intense as this one, and the O’Rahilly’s are grateful for the opportunity to redress the balance.

“Each situation will mean something different for every player, it’s not going to be the same for everybody,” said Cassidy.

“Everybody will have their own personal view on what happened and how they performed, how disappointed they were with the result and with their performance. And that’s something that they have got to take into consideration in their own preparation.”

Whatever the recriminations or regrets, Cassidy insists they must be parked once the teams cross the white line on Sunday afternoon. A single-minded and focused approach is essential if Clonoe are to make it to the county final and challenge for a third O’Neill Cup title under the Derry man’s watch.

“Last year’s game is over. This is a new game and Coalisland have a new management team and they have been playing really well in the league and were really impressive and comfortable in the two games they have played in the championship so far," he added.

“So they probably will be favourites, I suspect, going in on that form and the league form going into the championship and last year’s championship game as well. So it’s up to us to respond, it’s also up to Coalisland to back themselves and show that their form is genuine form.”

O’Rahilly Park and Fr Peter Campbell Park are less than a minute’s drive apart and it’s quite remarkable that two of the county’s top teams can flourish within such a confined space. Friends and neighbours will face off against each other in a fierce, intense battle, both driven by a pride in the jersey, but tempered by a respect for the opposition.

“There is a fierce rivalry, but that’s healthy and that’s what makes it a wee bit more enjoyable,” Cassidy said.

Clonoe have come through three tough games, beating Omagh after a replay, before striking late to deny Carrickmore last weekend, while Coalisland have yet to be tested, having comfortably defeated Galbally and Kildress: “My view is that it’s great preparation for us going into this game. To have three games on the trot going into a game like this, we have a lot of momentum built up, and I would view it as a positive,” said the Clonoe boss.

“It’s like coming through the Qualifiers in the All-Ireland series, you often find the teams coming with momentum are very difficult to work with.”

For the third game in-a-row, the O’Rahilly’s came back from the dead to avoid defeat, with Danny McNulty hitting a late goal to stun Carrickmore last Sunday: “The sting was always in the tail as far as we were concerned. We always had that potential,” said Cassidy.

“That’s three matches on the trot where it has come down to that. You expect that. The Tyrone championship is seriously competitive and there are five, six teams there that are much of a muchness and there’s not an awful lot between them. If you’re prepared, to be honest, and have the spirit to play out the game, the chances are going to come.”

GAA Football

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