A magical couple of weeks ahead for Edendork's finest: Niall Morgan
TYRONE goalkeeper Niall Morgan says reaching this year’s All-Ireland final has been made that bit more special with Edendork club-mates Darren McCurry and Conn Kilpatrick playing vital roles in guiding the Red Hands to the September 11 decider against Mayo.
McCurry dropped off the panel in 2018 and missed Tyrone’s last All-Ireland final appearance – but the highly-rated attacker, nicknamed ‘Dazzler’, has been in sensational form this year and grabbed four points during last Saturday’s epic extra-time win over Kerry.
Kilpatrick has also nailed down a midfield berth this year and has formed a vibrant new-look partnership with Brian Kennedy.
Now in his ninth year with Tyrone, Morgan is delighted to be sharing this incredible journey with McCurry and Kilpatrick.
“Just looking back to 2018, they are probably the best few weeks you’ll ever have, outside of playing a match,” said Morgan.
“There are so many young boys in there. I’m looking at Conn [Kilpatrick] - this is his second year on the panel, his first year playing. He probably doesn’t understand what’ll be coming his way over the next couple weeks.
“And then Darren who’s been there a year more than me but took a summer out and missed the last final. I’m delighted for him as well. For the three of us to come from the one club – a club that doesn’t win much, it’s just magical for us and it’ll actually boost our club as well.”
With the build-up to last weekend’s deferred All-Ireland semi-final completely dominated by the COVID outbreak in the Tyrone camp, Morgan hopes that the dreaded “C-word” won’t play any role ahead of their intriguing clash with the Connacht champions.
For now, though, Morgan will tread carefully over the coming weeks as he returns to his day job as a schoolteacher at Edendork Primary School.
“It’ll be nice this year to be in school and the children getting excited,” said the 30-year-old.
“The flip side of it is boys are going back into environments and they don’t know what’s going on in households. We’re just hoping the C-word [COVID] doesn’t rear its head again as I don’t think we’ll get another push-back for the final but we’re just hoping that everybody can stay safe and healthy.
“I know we’re doing our best but we can’t control what others are doing.”
Tyrone will be trying to win their fourth All-Ireland – their first since 2008 – while Mayo are aiming to finally end their 70-year wait for the Sam Maguire, having reached five finals in the last decade but finishing runners-up each time.
Morgan knows exactly the dynamic ahead of this final with every Gael outside of Tyrone willing James Horan’s men on.
He also identifies some anti-Tyrone sentiment outside of his native county.
“Everybody has the right to think whatever they want about a team,” said Morgan.
“We genuinely don’t talk about it in the dressing room. You have it in the back of your head and you know it goes on. We don’t read into it too much. It’s a probably a good laugh and a bit of banter but it doesn’t actually affect your game-day mind-set.”