Dromore crossing fingers that Sludden will be fit for semi-final showdown with Errigal
DROMORE captain Conor O'Hara is keeping his fingers crossed that Niall Sludden's hamstring holds up for Sunday's Tyrone SFC semi-final against Errigal Ciaran.
The Allstar was only risked for half an hour of last weekend's narrow win over Omagh, after missing the first round clash with Killyclogher.
When he was introduced at half-time, Sludden made a huge impact, scoring two vital points to help the reigning champions grind out a 0-6 to 0-5 win.
But O'Hara hailed the depth of the squad and its ability to absorb the loss of key players.
“Niall is our marquee man. It was a real blow to us last week against Killyclogher when he got injured in the warm-up, but again it showed the strength of mind and the mindset of this squad, the amount of men we have in reserve who can come in and take Niall's place,” he said.
Driving wind and rain made conditions at Loughmacrory challenging, and effectively ruined the game as a spectacle, reducing it to a low-scoring battle for survival.
“It just came down to a battle of wills, both teams going hell for leather at it,” said O'Hara.
“But I'm proud of each and every one of our boys for the battle they put in.
“You woke up in the morning and saw the conditions, with the rain battering down on the window, and you just knew that it was going to be a battle.
“We had the wind in the first half and we took a wee while to get into the game.”
It was Omagh who adapted more readily to the adverse conditions in the first half, dominating possession while playing into the wind, but failed to put the scores on the board and trailed by 0-3 to 0-2 at the interval.
“In fairness to Omagh, the game plan probably worked in the first half, they were keeping the ball well and they kept close to us.
“We knew coming out for the second half that we were going to have to work really, really hard to get anything off it.”
Dromore went into the game as favourites, but it was no surprise to corner back O'Hara that the holders were pushed all the way by the men from Healy Park.
“We talked about it all week, and for the last couple of weeks, a team like Omagh, from one to 15, even to 20, they are all very good football players, boys that have played county football all throughout their youth upwards, so we knew that are all very good ball players.
“And we knew that if we were going to stop them we would have to defend as a unit, not six or seven or eight. It was going to take fifteen men back.
“Every single man worked hard there getting back, didn't leave anything easy coming up the field, so it made our job in the full back line and the half back line that wee bit easier. We kept the task and did what we had to do.”
Now they must raise their game to another level if they are to overcome an Errigal Ciaran side that sparkled in its five-point win over Dungannon.
“We take one game at a time and that's all you can do in Tyrone, so we'll do that and see where it takes us.”