GAA Football

Errigal Ciaran will be back in Ulster SFC soon, believes Ben McDonnell

Ben McDonnell (back), waits for potential breaking ball as Errigal Ciaran competed with Glen in the Ulster SFC.
Francis Mooney

Ben McDonnell's sense of devastation and disappointment was tempered by a burning pride as Errigal Ciaran saw their provincial dream crushed.

Defeat to Derry champions Glen saw the Tyrone title-holders make their exit from the Ulster Club SFC in a Celtic Park thriller, but they battled right to the end against a high quality opponent.

Errigal midfielder McDonnell is certain the club will return to make a mark in the not too distant future, having returned to the provincial stage for the first time in a decade.

"I'm proud of every one of these boys. It's a new beginning for this team," he said following the 3-10 to 1-12 loss.

"There was only four or five of them who played in 2012, so this is a relatively new team.

"I think we're only coming into our prime, so I hope there's a lot more to come, and there will be a lot more to come.

"I'm bitterly disappointed, the boys put in a big shift."

Errigal have some of the most exciting young talents in the county, and with bright futures ahead of them, the Dunmoyle men are looking forward to many more triumphs in the seasons ahead.

"We have Peter Og McCartan and Joe Oguz. Joe has had an outstanding year, he has played out of his skin, and obviously with the Canavans up there, we have good youth coming through.

"Cathal Corrigan was probably our player of the championship last year and he has struggled to make the starting 15, but he's been coming off the bench and adding legs, so there's a lot of boys pushing on for the next couple of years."

Managers Mark Harte and Adrian O'Donnell guided Errigal back to the pinnacle of Tyrone football this season, winning the county championship for the first time in 10 years.

"You just feel that you've let the whole community down, but the boys put in a huge shift, Mark and Adrian and the whole lot of them put on a big push this year," said McDonnell.

"Glen are a super team, and we knew we were going to be up against it today, and they really put it up to us."

Two early Glen goals presented Errigal with a huge challenge, one which was approached with courage, but in the end, the Oak Leaf men had the experience and the quality to see the game out.

"With that wind, we probably needed to be going in at half-time six or seven points up, we knew that," said McDonnell.

"But we conceded a couple of unlucky goals that I felt probably we shouldn't have been letting in.

"That gave them the platform to spring on with that wind, and the wind was a lot stronger on the pitch than what it might have appeared.

"They're a high pressure team, they press high up the pitch, and I suppose we struggled with that against the wind.

"Around the middle third they have serious experience, they have two or three Doherty boys, Conor Glass, big Emmett Bradley, they're experienced men and they know how to see out wins, they know how to fight back, they know how to get high press on and turn teams over.

"And I suppose that's their experience in Ulster from last year, which probably helped too. We wish them all the best."

GAA Football