Dromore hope to carry momentum of long-awaited win into Tyrone quarter-final clash with Errigal Ciaran
LCC Group Tyrone Senior Football Championship quarter-final: St Dympna’s, Dromore v Errigal Ciaran (tomorrow, 5pm, Carrickmore)
HAVING finally shaken the monkey from their backs the last day, Dromore will hope the momentum from that extra-time victory over Omagh can propel them towards a semi-final spot when they take on a free-scoring Errigal Ciaran side tomorrow.
After three years of falling at the first hurdle, Colm McCullagh’s men finally got over the line in Loughmacrory two weeks ago, goals from substitute Andrew McGrath and Niall Sludden doing the damage in the second period of extra-time to seal a 3-15 to 2-13 win.
That released the pressure valve somewhat, but they go into tomorrow afternoon’s quarter-final in Carrickmore as underdogs against an Errigal side who beat Pomeroy 1-20 to 0-10 and have racked up an average of over 20 points per game since football’s return.
Errigal have plenty of motivation too having lost out in two of the last three county finals.
Given how traditionally tight the Tyrone championship is, such consistency is a testament to the talent within their ranks, but those 2017 and 2019 disappointments will have only strengthened Errigal’s determination to get their hands on the O’Neill Cup.
For McCullagh, though, he is just delighted Dromore have another opportunity to show what they can do in what could be the tie of the round.
“It was important for that team to win the first round game – we hadn’t won one in three years, so to get over the line will give them a bit of confidence, and the way it was won after extra-time, it was a real battle,” said the former Tyrone forward.
“It was good to come through it. We conceded a goal early on but it was nip and tick the whole way, we were level nine different times and then in the second half of extra-time we got the scores that got us over the line.
“Errigal have been knocking on the door this last couple of years, so in terms of their progression they’re ahead of where we are at the minute. They’ve more experience on that end of it, and this year they’ve been blowing teams away.
“Omagh had their players we were wary of, and Errigal have more again that you have to be wary of. It’s just trying to get the balance of looking after your own house but also being prepared for what’s coming at you as well.
“Errigal’s going to be a massive task for us but, just having got over that first round was a bonus. We’re into the quarter-final and we’re the underdogs, but we’re looking forward to it.”
It promises to be an intriguing battle and Red Hand playmaker Sludden – one of the survivors from Dromore’s 2011 title success - along with Eoin McCusker, Ronan McNabb and Peter Teague form a classy and influential core, and can bring others into play in an expansive approach.
Injury-hit Errigal have suffered a further blow with the loss of midfielder Joe Oguz, but with one of the most extensive squads in the county, they have no shortage of competent replacements.
Peter Harte, Aidan McCrory, skipper Niall Kelly and Odhran Robinson will drive their bid to win a first championship since 2012, and boss Johnny McBride is predicting “a serious battle”.
“We’ll have to try and start like we did against Pomeroy, but it won’t be as easy standing on the sideline,” he said.
“They’re getting it thrown at them [two final defeats in three years], people questioning whether they’re good enough. But everybody is out there to prove themselves.
“We all want to win something, we have all got that ambition. They want to win a championship, I want to win a championship.”