GAA Football

Killyclogher hoping Enniskillen's Henry can see them crowned in Tyrone again

Killyclogher celebrate their 2016 Tyrone SFC triumph, only their second ever - both won under the management of St Michael's, Enniskillen men. 
Francis Mooney

A UNIQUE relationship with a Fermanagh school has inspired a leading Tyrone club to its greatest triumphs.

Killyclogher's two senior football championship titles were masterminded by teachers from St Michael's College in Enniskillen.

Peter McGinnity was the man with the golden touch in 2003 as the St Mary's stormed to a maiden success, and it was Dominic Corrigan who managed the O'Neill Cup winning team of 2016.

Now the link has been renewed with the appointment of St Michael's principal Mark Henry as the new man in charge at Ballinamullan.

Derry native Henry leads his side into Championship battle for the first time tomorrow (Fri) when they take on Carrickmore in a first round tie at Healy Park.

But he insists the successes of his Enniskillen teaching colleagues won't add to the pressure that accompanies an air of expectation at Killyclogher.

"There's no doubt it has ben said in jest to me a time or two, but I think it doesn't matter what job you're doing, no matter what bit of coaching you're doing, you put pressure on yourself to get the very best out of the group of players at your disposal," he said.

"So that would be my motivation and my pressure, maybe more so than the link with St Michael's.

"But if I can go anywhere close to what the other two men did for the club, I'd be very, very happy."

A native of Greenlough, where he still holds club membership, Henry has been based in Fermanagh for many years, and he has managed the Erne county's U21 and Minor teams, as well as club sides Lisnaskea and Ederney.

But he needed no assistance in finding his way to Ballinamullan for his first Killyclogher training session earlier this year.

He had already made several visits to the ground, scene of frequent MacRory Cup ties involving St Michael's.

"We do have a strong link. St Michael's would play an awful lot of their colleges game in Killyclogher, when we're playing the likes of Maghera and Magherafelt.

"A lot of us in St Michael's have had a really good relationship with Killyclogher over the years."

With three League wins in four outings, Killyclogher will carry encouraging form into their O'Neill Cup clash with Championship specialists Carmen, who top the Tyrone roll of honour with 15 titles.

The St Mary's have appeared in three of the last five county finals, and the new boss feels they can maintain that high level of competitiveness.

"Thankfully this club has been there or thereabouts over the last five years, and we would like to think that again going into this Championship, we would be really, really competitive.

"And we have our eyes fixed firmly on Friday night, and we will do everything in our power to come out on the right side of that."

The only defeat to date this season came at Errigal Ciaran last Friday evening, when Henry fielded a much weakened side in order to avoid the risk of injury just a week out from Championship.

"We were happy that we had got a lot out of the first three games, and we were out in the Championship in seven days time, so we felt this game was just too close to risk injury to key players.

"We got a number of our fringe players game time, which was helpful as well, while at the same time we protected a lot of our key players.

"We have 24 to pick for Friday night, and the incentive for the boys was to force their way into that 24.

"Even though the scoreline was not what we would like, a number of individuals in the team did press their claims for a place in the panel next weekend."

ends

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GAA Football