GAA Football

"There is a character in this team that will never say die..." Dromore's Colm O'Neill looks forward to Tyrone Championship final against Coalisland Na Fianna

"There is a character in this team that will never say die," says Dromore's Colm O'Neill. Picture: Seamus Loughran.
Andy Watters

NOBODY can say they’ve taken the easy route. Dromore have had to dethrone Dungannon and beat Trillick, 2020 runners-up, just to get to the Tyrone Championship final and defensive stalwart Colm O’Neill says it’s his team’s unshakeable belief that has seen them come through battle after battle this year.

Coalisland’s Na Fianna are now in their sights in the decider and O’Neill, described as an unsung hero in the team, says Dromore will fight all the way “to the finish line” once again on November 13. Of course, the Na Fianna players can say exactly the same – they were in serious trouble until a three-goal salvo in six minutes saw them overhaul Errigal Ciaran in last weekend’s second semi-final – so everything looks set up for a grand finale in the Red Hand county.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board and assess what we’ll do,” said O’Neill after Dromore had recovered from falling five points behind to beat Trillick on Saturday night.

“The final will be another battle no doubt about that. We focus on ourselves and we know there is a character in this team that will never say die and we’ll be prepared come the county final.”

As well as Dungannon and Trillick, Dromore have had to see off determined challenges from Ardboe and Mattie McGleenan’s Eglish. Their painstaking path through one of Ireland’s most dog-eat-dog championships has been excellent preparation for the decider.

“We knew going into it that it was never going to be easy with the way Trillick have been going,” said O’Neill.

“They were unlucky last year and they were county champions the previous year so we expected a battle and we got it and thankfully we came out on the right side of it.

“Boys like Emmet McNabb and Sean McNabb stepped up again for us. Boys off the bench like Odhran Rafferty did very well. It just shows you the depth that we have in the squad and it was a top team performance overall.”

After a whirlwind start that saw them take what looked like a commanding seven-point lead in the first quarter, Dromore lost their way in the second and trailed by two points at the break. Trillick had stretched that lead to five before Dromore began a sustained comeback that saw them win by two at the finish.

“You see it all the time; if you get a good start a lot of times the other team comes back at you,” said O’Neill.

“We knew we had to take it as it comes so we weren’t fazed. We just took it one step at a time and it paid off at the end.

“I’m sure the fans aren’t too happy with us because we did the exact same against Dungannon and against Eglish we were two down with 10 minutes to go. But we have the belief in ourselves that we can come back and we’ll never lie down and give up without a fight. We have faith and the boys we can bring in off the bench showed tonight they we’ll always go to the finish line.”

 

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