O'Donnell hails Errigal resilience in seeing off champions Dromore to book Tyrone final spot

Errigal Ciaran joint manager Aidan O'Donnell (right) is hoping injuries can clear up in the coming weeks as they prepare for a Tyrone final meeting with Carrickmore
Errigal Ciaran joint manager Aidan O'Donnell (right) is hoping injuries can clear up in the coming weeks as they prepare for a Tyrone final meeting with Carrickmore

ERRIGAL Ciaran’s defensive grit dragged them through a dogged Tyrone SFC semi-final as they edged out champions Dromore to set up a derby decider against Carrickmore.

Joint manager Adrian O’Donnell hailed the resilience of the men who stood firm in the face of a furious comeback by the holders at O’Neills Healy Park.

It was the classy movement and clinical finishing of the Canavan clan that shot them into a five-point lead, but when the pressure came on in a backs-to-the-wall second half, contrasting qualities were required.

“We’re happy with that. It was 11-10, it was low-scoring. We had huge moments of play, especially in the second half where we had two, three blocks on different attacks from them,” he said.

“And they’re as good as a score to us, we place the same emphasis on our defensive aspect of the game as we do our offensive, and together, collectively, we did just enough to get over the line.”

Adverse weather conditions affected the speed and flow if a contest that was nonetheless compelling and highly entertaining, but in O’Donnell’s opinion, the wind and persistent rain were not major factors in its outcome.

“We were prepared. I suppose when you’re playing championship football at this time of the year, you’re not going to be playing on hard ground, you’re not going to be playing in great weather.

“So that night was something that we prepared about, that we talked about, and it was something similar to what the game threw last Sunday.

“I don’t see the weather as being a leveller as such. I knew that there were two good teams going to battle, and we’re delighted that we’re the team that came out on the right side of the result.”

O’Donnell and his management partner Mark Harte never felt comfortable, even with a five-point lead, always on edge in anticipation of the inevitable Dromore fightback.

“It was tough from minute one. We did go 7-2 up in the first half, but they were always going to come back at us.

“We knew that we were prepared as best we could to go to 60, 62, 63 minutes, and that’s what it turned out, before we knew that we were in the final.”

With the county final less than two weeks away, it’s now a case of assessing the injury count and nursing bruised limbs through the recovery period to get them ready for a first involvement in the showpiece occasion since 2019.

“For any team to have their best chance, you need the least amount of injuries that you possibly can have.

“There was 19 or 20 players used there, and we just have to wait and get feedback from our medical team to see who has come through it and who has come through it well in terms of our next training session, which is all we’re looking to at the moment”

With three tough battles won, the process continues with immediate focus and a forensic examination of the threats that opponents Carrickmore will bring to a clash of two of Tyrone’s most famous clubs on Sunday week.

“We’re delighted to get through. Prior to playing the Moy, it was our only focus, to try and win a game of football.

“We did that and we prepared as best we could for Dungannon, and we were fortunate to get over that, and again in what was probably a titanic tussle, with the conditions playing their part.

“Then we will prepare, as best we can, for the next challenge, which will be the biggest of the year.”