GAA Football

Separate club and county seasons can continue, says Tyrone defender Padraig Hampsey

Tyrone defender Padraig Hampsey is enjoying the club/county season split. Picture Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

TYRONE defender Padraig Hampsey can see no reason why separate club and county seasons shouldn’t continue after this year.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s season was split along club, then county lines but what was seen as a one-off arrangement should continue says Hampsey, who is enjoying the opportunity to reconnect with his club.

“If you look at the calendar year, there is definitely plenty of time to fit in both really well,” said Hampsey after helping Coalisland Na Fianna to victory over Omagh St Enda’s on Sunday.

“I can’t see why it can’t happen. It’s never been this way before so it’s unknown territory but it’s been a good run with the club, you get plenty of time training with the lads.

“The club has come first so it’s good, I definitely think it’s a good idea. It means you can put a good bit of effort into the club and that’s hard to beat.”

With Hampsey and county team-mate Michael McKernan to the fore, Coalisland have begun the season with back-to-back league victories. Sunday’s 12-point success over Omagh was particularly impressive given that the Na Fianna side had a player sin-binned in either half.

“We’re back at it and it’ was good to get a run-out again on our home pitch,” said Hampsey.

“It was a good win, the lads showed well. Some of them hadn’t got much game-time and it was great to see a couple of the younger lads coming in and doing really well – Oisin McHugh (making his senior debut) got a goal for us.

“And it was good to see people in the ground. Our supporters are very loyal and they go and watch us up and down the country so it’s good to see them out.”

With the wind at their backs in the first half, Coalisland pushed up on the Omagh kick-outs to good effect but Damian O’Hagan’s side concentrates on a high-tempo, counter-attacking game. When Omagh were in possession the men in blue retreated behind the ball, forced turnovers and then attacked with pace. Score after score came off breaks from deep in their own half.

“We use the running game really well,” said Hampsey.

“We’ve a couple of fresh lads in now and there’s plenty of running in them.”

A decade or two ago it would have been described as a massive hit, but a well-timed touch from the Hampsey’s shoulder was enough to send a St Enda’s player sprawling on Sunday. That physicality allied to ever-increasing experience and undoubted ability makes him a key player for club and county and there were alarm bells in the Na Fianna dugout when he pulled up with an injury late in the game.

“It was more precautionary,” he explained.

“I felt the hamstring was a bit tight but there was nothing serious. It felt good to get a second game under my belt.”

The big one for Coalisland is, of course, their championship derby clash with Clonoe O’Rahilly’s on August 6. The two clubs are only a couple of miles apart and Hampsey predicts the meeting will be “hell for leather”.

“It’s always a tough encounter with Clonoe,” he said.

“It’s a big derby game and they had a very convincing win against Trillick last week so they’ll be tough opposition for us. It’ll be a good game and it always is. It’s always hell-for-leather with both teams just going at it and I’m sure it’ll definitely be a good one for the spectators to go up and watch.

“Every team in Division One is good. Even the likes of Galbally, who are just up out of Division Two. They won the intermediate championship last year and they’re a very good young side. The Tyrone championship is always a tough one.”

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GAA Football