GAA Football

Killycolgher's final win confirms Tyrone as most competitive championship of all

Killyclogher's win in last Friday's Tyrone SFC final replay means seven different clubs have won the last seven championships in the O'Neill county  
Francis Mooney

SEVEN different clubs have won the last seven Tyrone SFC titles and Killyclogher’s triumph has confirmed the standing of the Red Hand series as the most competitive of them all.

At the beginning of every season, at least half a dozen teams are rated as genuine contenders, and every now and again, an outsider comes from nowhere to claim the O’Neill Cup, just as newly promoted Trillick did last year.

Coalisland started the remarkable sequence back in 2010, but their bid to end it failed when they lost heavily to Killyclogher in last Friday’s replay: “It’s probably the toughest championship in Ireland. There’s eight or nine teams that can win it on any given day, and it came down to a replay to decide this year’s,” said Coalisland manager John McKeever.

“Seven winners in seven different years just shows you the competition that there is and, when you get to a final, you have to make sure that you win it.”

McKeever promised that his talented side will bounce back to atone for a disappointing performance which saw them lose by 0-20 to 0-6 to a Mark Bradley-inspired St Mary’s outfit.

“We have had a long journey this year, and we have enjoyed the journey. It’s just disappointing it had to end in a final, but we’ll be back," he added.

“I’m working with a panel of 32, and they’re 32 excellent lads, and they would give you their life. They have an outstanding attitude, and they’ll learn from this experience and come back even stronger.”

It was one of those days when nothing seemed to work, and every attempt made by the management to address problem areas failed to have the desired effect: “We tried everything we could, and nothing seemed to work out for us, and sometimes you can’t plan for that," he said.

“Full credit to Killyclogher, they have a good side, but we also have a good side. Coalisland will be back again.”

Killyclogher’s flying start left the Fianna chasing the game from an early stage. Bradley was on fire up front, hitting six points from play in the opening half as he tormented three different markers with some outrageously brilliant strikes.

“We tried a couple of different men on him, and it was one of those nights when Mark had a lot of joy, and everything he hit seemed to go over the bar," he said.

“That’s full credit to him, he’s an excellent footballer, and it all bodes well for Killyclogher for the future, and for Mark and for Tyrone. Fair play to Killyclogher, they came out of the blocks extremely fast. I think in the first half they only kicked one wide, so they were ruthless in front of the posts.

“We had equally as many chances as them, but we hit the post twice and we had five wides in the first half, and that’s the reason we went in at half-time seven down. We tried our hardest to get back into the game again, but when we went down to 14 men, it was difficult.”

Coalisland’s search for silverware continues, and they now turn their attentions to a challenge for the Division One league title: “It’s a progression with the Coalisland club. We’re in the top four in the league and Division One is extremely important in Tyrone, the competition is there," he said.

“So we’ll take a few days break, we’ll come back and we’ll prepare for a league semi-final in a couple of weeks time and we’ll go on from there. We just have to get up and get on with it”.

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