Cathal McRory says Errigal Ciaran are due a Tyrone title
FIVE years without a championship title is too long for a club of Errigal Ciaran’s standing, according to their captain Cathal McRory.
McRory will lead his side into Sunday’s Donnelly Vauxhall Tyrone SFC final against Omagh with a dream of re-establishing the Dunmoyle outfit as the county’s number one force.Once dominant in Tyrone and Ulster, Errigal failed to push on after reclaiming the O’Neill Cup in 2012, and they haven’t been back in a final since then.
“Five years is a long time, and we’re here hoping we can get up those steps to lift the O’Neill Cup, so hopefully we can get over the line,” he said.
“Just to get a championship medal would mean the world to me and to this group of players.”
There’s a seasoned and experienced spine to this Errigal Ciaran team, but along the flanks, manager Pascal Canavan has placed his trust in the club’s youthful talent.
This year and last, exciting youngsters have broken through into the senior squad and, this weekend, a raft of minor and U21 players will get their first taste of a senior championship final.
“In 2012, there was an U16 final on before our county final and there’s a lot of those boys from that U16 team that will play this Sunday in the championship final,” said McRory.
“So that’s the youth coming through in this club and it’s great for them, great experience. In tight games, they’re always seeing it out, they’re doing the right thing on the ball and that will benefit them now and further down the line.”
The Tyrone championship was fast-tracked this season with the first three rounds played off in the space of a couple of weeks, but Errigal’s assault on the title has been many months in the making.
A solid league campaign provided the foundation, during which a settled team was developed, and they finished top of the Division One table, losing just one game. They’ll contest a league semi-final later.
“This time last year we had a game against Strabane, which we had to win to qualify for the last four, and Strabane beat us,” added McRory.
“So we had to look at ourselves, have a look at where we were going.
“We did serious, serious work to get from where we were then to now.
“We’re top of the league, but league stands for nothing, this is championship and we want to take one more step and win it.”
Errigal Ciaran battled their way through tight games against Carrickmore and Pomeroy to claim a place in Sunday’s championship decider and McRory expects more of the same on Sunday against an Omagh side that has never been easy to put away.
“We’re expecting a very tight game, it always is between ourselves and Omagh, a one- or two-point game max,” he added.
“We’ll be hopeful for a lot of good performances all over the field, finishing strong again, which has been our mantle all year, finishing that last 10 or 15 minutes strong and it has been working really well all year.
“Omagh is always a serious team with a lot of top-notch players, the likes of Ronan O’Neill, Connor O’Donnell, Conan Grugan.
“They got a great run there in Ulster a couple of years ago, they were very unlucky when Slaughtneil just pipped them at the last, so we know we’re going to be up against it.”
But Errigal are a battle-hardened side, having shown character to win a real battle against fierce rivals Carrickmore by two points before coming up with a late goal to finally end Pomeroy’s giant-killing run.
“It’s always a ding-dust battle between ourselves and Carrickmore,” he said.
“There’s never much between the teams when we play them, league or championship, so we knew going into that game that we had to be at our best. And lucky enough, we came out the right side of that result.
“And then into the Pomeroy game. You had to treat them with the utmost respect, as we did. They had beaten two big-hitters in Killyclogher and Clonoe, two teams that we have struggled with over the years in the championship.
“We had to do a serious bit of homework on them, on their strengths and weaknesses. But thankfully again in the last 10 minutes we dug in and we got over the line.”