Killyclogher manager expecting another fierce battle with Trillick in Tyrone SFC
KILLYCLOGHER manager Mark Henry is ready for another fight to the death against fierce rivals Trillick.
Extra-time couldn't separate them when they met in last year's Tyrone SFC quarter-final, with defending champions Trillick scraping through following a penalty shoot-out.
They collide again at the same stage at O'Neills Healy Park on Friday evening, with the scene perfectly set for the latest in a series of Red Hand epics.
“Every game is going to come down to very fine margins, and you have to be prepared for that to be the case, and go right to the final whistle to get out on the right side of these,” said Henry.
“I expect every game involving all of the teams to be very, very tight. It's so competitive, teams are so well prepared, teams know each other so well.
“Any game in Tyrone, league or championship, if you don't have your wits about you, and you're not really tuned in, you'll get turned over.”
Prominent names like Mark Bradley and the McCann brothers are central to Killyclogher's title challenge, but others carrying out less fashionable roles are equally important.
Nathan Donnelly, one of the most consistent players in Tyrone football, epitomises the work ethic that drives the men from Ballinamullan.
Getting on an immense amount of ball, he heavily influenced the narrow first round win over Donaghmore.
“Nathan has been outstanding for us all year. He wins a huge number of kick-outs, he puts in a huge shift for the team, so we knew he would do that for us.”
The manager is also prepared to place his faith in youth, and continues to seek opportunities to harness the promise of emerging players within the club.
After integrating a few newcomers last season, he handed out two more championship debuts in the opening round of this year's series.
“I thought they did really well, the likes of young Mattie Devlin and Ben Armstrong, who were both making their championship debuts and gave really good performances.”
But injuries have hampered the project, and the St Mary's are hoping for a prompt return of some important players.
“We have a couple out, and we'll just have to see what happens. We have a few players that we would like to have on our panel that are not available to us at the minute.
“That's disappointing, but there are guys who made their championship debuts who maybe wouldn't have had those opportunities if we were at full strength.”
Tyrone attacker Bradley, not for the first time, conjured up the magic that got his side over the line with a 1-10 to 1-9 first round win.
He grabbed the vital goal and finished with 1-3 in a thrilling clash at Omagh.
“You always know what you're going to get from Mark Bradley. Every day he goes out he is absolute quality.
“You can pick out a couple of fellows here or there in any game, but that was a team performance, a really gritty team performance and that's what delighted me the most.
“Donaghmore were very close in 2019 to beating Killyclogher, they were very unlucky last year against Ardboe. They have a really decent team, and they were unfortunate that they weren't able to start Niall McKenna and Ryan Cush, who is a massive player for them.
“They're an improving team and they have a brilliant minor team coming through as well. They are building, and I'm just delighted that they didn't get over the line against us, because they're going to be a threat in years to come.”