Veteran Davy Harte's cool head guiding Errigal attack
IF Errigal Ciaran do go on to win a first county title since 2012, they will surely look back upon Davy Harte’s cool head at the most testing of times in the semi-final.
Two points down, playing into the teeth of a gale against a buoyant Pomeroy who seem to have all the momentum they need to force their way into what would be a first ever senior final.
Harte takes it upon himself to turn the tide. Drives at Jude Campbell and wins a free that he converts with the inside of the boot. Eight to go, the gap down to one.
Three minutes later, a free so far out on the sideline on the 45 that it looked near impossible to score through the wind. But after a long study, Harte nails it with the outside of the right. Level game, momentum broken and through Niall Kelly’s goal a minute from time, the Ballygawley men booked their place in the Healy Park decider.
“Any advantage is massive so if you’d missed that at that stage, it gives them the chance to come down the field and get another score,” said the veteran.
“In terms of what goes through your head, nothing. You’re totally focussed and absorbed at that stage, and you’re around long enough now to try and keep a calm head.
“That’s probably why you’re in there at the minute, for a bit of experience around there and let the young lads do the running.”
Now 35, Harte’s role in the team has altered significantly from the all-action wing-back that he was for years with club and county.
The schoolteacher is now the wise, ball-winning figurehead of the attack, one which gave the Pomeroy defence plenty of strife throughout a gripping encounter.
“The game has changed considerably. If you’re in half-back, half-forward or midfield, you’re an athlete first and foremost now.
“Those boys cover serious ground and I’m no longer fit to do that. It’s a change but it gives you a spring in your step. It’s nice to be involved and still be going.
“We were two down with less than 10 minutes to go and they were in the ascendancy. They kicked some great scores and got a few frees, and they didn’t look like missing
“Everything was going in their favour and I’m just delighted that we dug in there. We hung in and got the scores, which shows great character.
“We are a relatively young team so from that point of view, to dig in and get a result and get through to the final is massive for the club.”
Despite the nature of Pomeroy’s journey to the last four, having taken out last year’s winners Killyclogher and then a fancied Clonoe after a replay, Errigal Ciaran made the short journey to Carrickmore with all the pressure of expectation loaded on their shoulders.
The Plunketts were able to play without any of that and despite the absence of John Loughran through injury, and the tired legs on top of that, they put it right up to Pascal Canavan’s side.
“I was chatting to some of their players there and the extra game maybe just caught up on them in the end, and they’re so unfortunate,” said Harte.
“We showed them the utmost respect coming into today’s game because if we’d been playing Killyclogher or Clonoe today, our championship history against both those teams hasn’t been great.
“We had to treat them very, very seriously. They caused us a lot of bother in the league and their three county players are exceptional club players – and it’s not in every club that happens.
“We knew they were extremely dangerous and you have to feel sorry for them. The goal was a sucker punch for them and there probably was no coming back from that.”