Dungannon Clarke's super-subs help to sink Trillick in Tyrone SFC Final
LCC Group Tyrone SFC Final: Dungannon Thomas Clarke's 1-12 Trillick St Macartan's 1-12 (aet) (Dungannon win 8-7 on penalties)
DON'T be afraid to work hard and, with good health, sooner or later you will get there.
Thomas J Clarke
Those words of Tom Clarke surely inspired the club named in his honour to write the most incredible chapter of senior success even in their storied history.
Dungannon somehow snatched an 11th Tyrone SFC title for the town, prevented Trillick from becoming the first club to retain the trophy in 15 years, and ending their own 64-year drought.
All done after a penalty shoot-out, which went to a second round, after the Clarke's had taken opponents to extra time for the fourth time in this astonishing Championship.
To add another twist to the tale, county chairman Michael Kerr was striding onto the pitch just as Trillick captain Daire Gallagher missed his side's 10th spot-kick – seemingly set to announce that the two teams would go to a replay.
However, Clarke's corner back Ciaran Barker was allowed to step forward and redeem his own penalty miss from moments earlier – and he duly delivered Dungannon into eleventh heaven.
Captain Paudie McNulty, lifting the O'Neill Cup for the first time since it was re-named after one of the most famous of Clarkesmen, Paddy, told the celebrating throng assembled on the Healy Park pitch:
"I can't stop crying.
"This has been an absolute dream, for every man in this club. It's been far too long. I absolutely love this club. This means everything to everybody in this club. Up the Clarke's!"
Manager Chris Rafferty, somehow had the calmness and dignity to say he would have accepted a replay: "I wouldn't have minded, I wouldn't have argued, it's a more sporting way to complete it. I certainly wouldn't begrudge Trillick or anyone else their second bite at it."
The Clarke's stalwart hailed the influence of his substitutes, with Patrick Quinn and Kiefer Morgan scoring 1-4 between them, summing up his side's performance well:
"We believe if you finish stronger than you started then you have a heck of a chance…
"That's something we work on. We have a very strong bench – they're not always happy being introduced at that stage but Gaelic football has evolved into a different concept. The thought of 15 players playing the entire game is no longer there, it's how you bring your impact subs on.
"We didn't start well, we possibly allowed the occasion to get to us, and Trillick are a magnificent team."
Behind 1-2 to no score early on, Dungannon battled back, forcing extra time and then going to penalties, although Rafferty found those hard to watch:
"I would have found it difficult enough, to be honest, but we were doing the 'linked together' thing and keeping an eye on it. It's a leap of faith.
"It's very harsh on Trillick. They were magnificent, at no stage could you say that they deserved to lose it. You're a hostage to fortune when it comes to penalties, we're just delighted we got to the other side of it."