Dungannon manager Gourley steeped in MacRory Cup tradition

St Patrick's Acaademy, Dungannon v St Joseph's Donaghmore
St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon edged out St Joseph's, Donaghmore by a point in their semi-final Picture: Oliver McVeigh

Former Tyrone defender Ciaran Gourley was just a first year when St Patrick’s Academy reached and won their first MacRory Cup title in 1991 and after going on to win it as a player six years later, he is now looking forward to his fifth decider along the line.

It’s a first final for the Academy since 2015 so all the players are experiencing the occasion for the first time in their school careers.

“It has been a barren spell over the past few years but we have still worked as hard as we can to get the best out of the players reaching a few semi finals and just falling short of getting to the final and thankfully this year we have managed to get there,” said Ciaran.

“For the current crop of players this is completely new to them as we haven’t been in a final since they were in the school and they have to go out and enjoy it. The legacy that they will leave for the generations coming behind them will hopefully inspire further teams in years to come to try and reach these heights as well.”

Anybody who was at their quarter final against Carrickmacross would have thought that it was going to be at least another twelve months to end that barren spell as they trailed by five points with only five minutes to go but they showed a never say die attitude to hit back and force extra time before winning it in a sudden death penalty shootout.  

“In the semi-final, they had only the minimum to spare over neighbours St.Josephs Donaghmore so they know how to get a result when things aren’t going their way.

“Our side have shown resolve, grit and determination to come through games when things aren’t going their way, they hang in there,” said Gourley.

“Not all our performances have been perfect, I don’t expect them to be. There are times when I have thought that certain games were going away from us but hey have hung I there and that is a good sign of them.

The two teams going into this final know that it will go right to the wire and we just hope that we are on the right side of the result.

“Hopefully the boys will maintain that character and resolve for the final when things go against them knowing that they have been in this situation before.

“We know going into the final against Omagh it is going to be an extremely tough battle. We probably have enjoyed similar paths to the final as we both have just crept past our two knockout games.

“In their last two games Omagh have managed to get out of the traps quickly and establish a lead before hanging on a wee bit in the closing stages and I would imagine that a quick start is something that they will be targeting again and if they get it they won’t want to let us back into it.”