Dungannon's Devlin chasing glory on two fronts in Tyrone this year
DUAL players are something of a rare breed nowadays in Tyrone, but Conall Devlin continues to fly the flag for both codes.
A senior championship winner with the Eoghan Ruadh hurlers and the Clarke's footballers in Dungannon, he's chasing glory on two fronts again this year.
But it's a delicate balancing act peppered with tough decisions and subject to the flexibility and tolerant understanding of management figures.
For now, it's the football that takes priority, with a quarter-final tie against Errigal Ciaran this weekend bringing the O'Neill Cup race to an intriguing stage.
“I love both games equally, but it's tough playing both, as everyone knows. Hopefully I'll get a chance to play the hurling this year too,” said Devlin.
“Some managers aren't happy some of the time, but I always just try and work it out myself and do whatever suits best.”
A star-studded Errigal side came through the first round in convincing fashion with a hard-fought win over Moy, but Dungannon's defeat of Trillick marked one of the big statement performances of the series to date.
“This Tyrone championship is tough, and the next round will be tough, but we'll keep pushing on, and hopefully we'll get there in the end. We'll just look to the next one and keep pushing on.”
The Clarke's soaked up early pressure and ignited their challenge with two goals before half-time and wore down their opponents to send one of the title favourites crashing out.
“We have been working on that all year. There have been times in the League that we have been pushed back and teams have been all over us.
“But Collie (Holmes) and Raff (Chris Rafferty) tell us to just keep trying, that it will come. Trillick are a quality side, but thankfully we got through it.
“I think everyone has got belief, and know not to panic, and know it will come, and thankfully it did, and we'll push on to the next one.”
Wing-back Devlin was one of many defensive heroes, but offered modest reflection on the many vital possessions he secured for his side.
“A few of them were just lucky enough, and could have gone over my head.”
Dungannon, who won the senior championship in 2020 for the first time in 65 years, face a modern-day force, but Errigal Ciaran, the only Tyrone side ever to have claimed an Ulster club crown, have not won the county title since 2012.
Errigal have one of the most talented attacking units in the series, but Devlin has total faith in the towering dual strike force of Paul Donaghy and Patrick Quinn to deliver at Pairc Colmcille in Carrickmore.
“It's just unbelievable to have Paddy Quinn and Paul Donaghy up there, and when you're under pressure, you just kick the ball in and those boys are class, they're always there for a score.”