GAA Football

Killyclogher defender Gabhan Sludden enjoying his license to attack

Killyclogher Gabhan Sludden in action against Slaughtneil's Padraig Cassidy at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh
By Francis Mooney

KILLYCLOGHER manager Dominic Corrigan has issued his players with a licence to attack this season, and each and every one of them has taken up the offer.

Corner-backs Marty Swift and Gabhan Sludden scored the goals in the 2-8 to 0-5 first round Championship win over Derrylaughan, and other defenders have weighed in with vital scores on the way to this weekend’s LCC Tyrone Senior Football Championship final against Coalisland.

Sludden is enjoying the opportunity to express himself in a more adventurous environment, and he’ll pick his moments to venture forward at Healy Park on Sunday.

“Every game is different, in some games I’m a bit further out maybe marking someone in the half-forward line so I can use that opportunity to get forward,’’ he said.

“Thankfully, against Derrylaughan I had the opportunity to get forward more. It doesn’t come around too often but I’ll take it when I have the chance.

“Swifty’s a bit different, Swifty’s fond of a goal over the years, but it was my first.

“His was a bit lucky, he was going for a point, but it shows what we have.

“In training we’re always going for goals and sometimes we play around the forward-line messing around, so if we get the chance we’ll put it away.”

With more players sharing the attacking burden, the level of reliance on Mark Bradley for scores has been reduced.

And when the Tyrone attacker was forced out of the semi-final by injury, the St Mary’s were able to find the finishing power to come from behind and beat Ardboe in extra-time.

“Everyone knows how good Mark is, I thought it was very good that all the lads stepped up,” said Sludden. 

“Sometimes Mark takes all the praise but there’s a lot of dogged work that goes into getting Mark the ball, the likes of Simon O’Neill wins the dirty ball for Mark sometimes.

“I think we’ve been developing this game over the last four or five years, we’ve built our fitness levels and our fitness showed in the last 20 minutes.”

The return of the Tyrone trio of Bradley and the McCann brothers, Tiernan and Conall, following the Red Hands’ run to the All-Ireland final has helped Killyclogher step up the tempo and focus on winning a place in a third county final in four years.

It was midfielder Conall McCann who scored the stoppage-time goal that sent a thriller against Ardboe into extra-time 10 days ago.

“It’s a good boost, our league campaign was a bit stop-start. We started very well and we didn’t have Tiernan,” said Sludden.

“We had a tough run of games and weren’t getting results.

“When the county lads came in, they lifted training to another level and pushed us all on.

“Thankfully, everyone else has bought into it and we’re all trying to train at the same level.

“We’ve always had a good selection of county players, seven or eight lads who’ve played for Tyrone, and that’s helped. Our panel hasn’t changed much either.”

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