GAA Football

Killyclogher pain won't be erased unless they beat Coalisland in Tyrone SFC final

Killyclogher manager Dominic Corrigan (right) is looking forward to Sunday's Tyrone SFC final  
Francis Mooney

DOMINIC CORRIGAN was a spectator at last season’s Tyrone SFC final, when Trillick won a first title in 29 years.

He didn’t fully appreciate the depth of devastation visited upon opponents Killyclogher until he arrived at Ballinamullan to take up the post as their new manager at the start of this season. Corrigan has since guided St Mary’s back to another final. A renowned motivator, one of his greatest strengths has been made virtually redundant by the fact his players are driven by the hurt inflicted upon them by that one-point defeat in the 2015 decider.

They have gone some way towards easing the pain by knocking champions Trillick out of the current series, but it won’t be totally erased unless they claim the O’Neill Cup by beating Coalisland at Healy Park on Sunday: “It was a tough learning experience for the Killyclogher boys and, certainly, they were stung by it, they were hurt by it, but they were manly enough to admit and concede that they didn’t do enough on the day to earn the right to win the title,” said Corrigan.

“Trillick were deserving champions, worthy champions but, to be fair to Killyclogher, they stored the hurt and have used it to drive them on this year and that’s what good players and good teams do. They’re hurting, surely. I was up at last year’s final as a spectator and you would have to say that Trillick were the better side over the 60 minutes. The goal start that they got gave them a platform and they were good enough and experienced enough to hold on to that all the way through.

“It was a huge disappointment because Killyclogher would have felt that, after getting over Errigal and Dromore last year, that they were in a good place going into the final, but it turned out that Trillick were probably a wee bit sharper and more up for the game.”

Sunday’s opponents Coalisland have had to come through a tough replay to get to their first final since 2010 and will carry momentum into the decider, which will be their third championship game on successive weekends: “I have been very impressed with Coalisland. Of all the teams we played in the league, they were the most impressive,” said Corrigan.

“With the pace, the sheer footballing quality throughout their team, they are deserving of their place in the county final. I’m not surprised at all that they’re there. I know they got what you would consider the easier side of the draw in round one and round two, but they showed great character and great quality to beat Clonoe and it didn’t surprise me at all. So we know exactly what we’re facing, we know the quality that they possess and we know that we have to be at the very top of our game to get the result on Sunday.”

Coalisland’s star attacker Paddy McNeice is currently in America and has played no part in this year’s championship, but they have assembled a new strategy, that has proven extremely effective in his absence: “In Cathaoir Quinn and Dermot Thornton up front, they have two prolific scoring forwards, but the thing that strikes me about them is the sheer quality throughout the team and great pace, boys all very comfortable on the ball,” said Corrigan.

“We’re looking forward to a great battle with them on Sunday. It’s going to be very, very tough, but it’s one we’re looking forward to.”

Three victories achieved with a mix of style and courage have fortified levels of confidence and Corrigan could not be happier with the physical and mental shape of his squad going into the title shoot-out: “The boys are playing with great confidence, the team has gelled very well. These boys have grown up together at underage level, they have played together," he added.

“They have great belief in themselves and there’s great spirit in the team. In championship football, you need that. As well as the quality, you need that spirit and character and these boys have it in spade-fulls. They’re a very honest group of players, they’re a very committed group and, for me, they’re as good a club side as you would wish to be involved with, at any level, and I must say I have found working with them a real pleasure.

“But we are where we were last year. Now, the challenge is to learn from last year’s experience and push on to an even better performance now in the final.”

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