GAA Football

Omagh set up Tyrone SFC quarter-final with Greencastle

Omagh's Conor Grugan is tackled by Michael Lynn and Stephen Coney of Ardboe at the Athletic Grounds
Francis Mooney

Vauxhall Donnelly Tyrone SFC first round: Omagh 1-16 Ardboe 1-11

CONNOR O’Donnell paid the perfect sporting tribute to his late father with a virtuoso display as Omagh saw off Ardboe to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Donnelly Vauxhall Tyrone SFC at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh last night.

Just days after the death of St Enda’s stalwart Charlie, his son shot brilliant points to inspire his side to a five-point win over the loughshore men in a terrific contest.

A historic evening for Tyrone football saw a championship game played outside the county for the first time, with Healy Park ruled out due to the involvement of Omagh, and no neutral floodlit venue available.

Omagh now face a quick turnaround, with just three days to prepare for Sunday’s quarter-final against Greencastle.

The sides had been level on three occasions when Conan Grugan fired home a brilliant 15th minute goal to give Omagh a massive boost.

But the loughshore men responded with Shay McGuigan’s third point and a Caolan Mallaghan effort, before a fortuitous goal edged them back in front. Anthony Devlin’s harmless looking effort dropped into the arms of goalkeeper Niall McGinn, but the ball slipped out of his grasp and over the line.

The St Enda’s responded brilliantly, with three points on the spin, including a spectacular Connor O’Donnell effort and a fisted score from full-back Hugh Gallagher, while Grugan brought his tally to 1-3.

John McConville kept Ardboe in it with saves from Ronan O’Neill and Gregory Murray, and at the break, Omagh led by 1-8 to 1-6.

Another McConville stop denied Barry Tierney, but Omagh, now with the wind in their backs, continued to press, opening pout a four-point lead with scores from O’Donnell, Joe McMahon, Ronan O’Neill and Cormac O’Neill.

The Rossas struggled to match the attacking flair of their opponents as an inspired O’Donnell steered over another volley of outstanding scores, and it was all over for Brian McGuigan’s side when Tyrone star David Mulgrew was sent off five minutes from the end.


Vauxhall Donnelly Tyrone SFC quarter-final: Coalisland v Trillick (Friday, Healy Park, 8.30pm)

TWO recent winners of the O’Neill Cup meet in this evening’s first Donnelly Vauxhall Tyrone SFC quarter-final, and Coalisland and Trillick both feel they have what it takes to triumph in 2017.

Trillick are bidding for a second title in three seasons, while the Fianna were champions in 2010, and beaten finalists last year.

They met two years ago, and it was the St Macartan’s who swept to a landslide victory, with Lee Brennan and Mattie Donnelly leading the charge.

Some outstanding attacking talent will be on display which could contribute to a high-scoring game.

“Two years ago in a semi-final, Trillick beat Coalisland convincingly. Our boys would have been disappointed from that game,” said Coalisland manager John McKeever.

“They felt that they never showed up and they never played, so there will be a lot of motivation from our lads going into it.

“There was eight or nine points in that semi-final, so it’s important that we progress and close that gap.”

Paddy McNeice is back in the Coalisland attack, having returned from a year in the USA, adding extra class and scoring power to their attack, and they have Plunkett Kane and Stephen McNally still going strong.

They were comfortable in their 3-11 to 1-11 first round win over Galbally, while Trillick routed Strabane by 3-17 to 0-6.

With four county players in their squad – Mattie and Richie Donnelly, and the Brennan brothers, Rory and Lee – Trillick have quality all over the field, and with Daire Gallagher and exciting teenager James Garrity in their attack, they carry a major scoring threat.

Trillick manager Nigel Seaney accepts that his side has not yet faced a major test, but they will be confronted by one of the finest teams in the county this evening.

“Once you go into the second round of the championship, it goes up another level,” he said.

“It’s how you cope with that level, and how you perform the basics, how you take your chances when they’re there, keep the mistakes to a minimum, prepare yourself for the challenge.

Seaney has integrated a couple of teenagers into his team this season in Ryan Gray and James Garrity, with the latter grabbing two goals in the win over Strabane.


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