Danske Bank MacRory Cup final: Holy Trinity, Cookstown v Omagh CBS (Sunday, O’Neills Healy Park, 2pm, live on BBC iPlayer)
THE eagerly awaited Danske Bank MacRory Cup final takes place on Sunday afternoon at O’Neills Healy Park and for only the second time in the competition’s 99-year history it will be an all-Tyrone affair when Holy Trinity, Cookstown and Omagh CBS go head to head.
The last time it was a derby final was back in 2009 when St Patrick’s, Dungannon beat Omagh in the decider at the same venue and in fact that was the last time the prized silverware resided in the O’Neill county.
That brought to an end a golden period for Tyrone in the competition as Dungannon won it in 2004, 2008 and 2009 while Omagh went all the way in 2005 and 2007 with both schools managing a Hogan Cup each in 2007 (Omagh) and 2008 (Dungannon).
This will be Omagh’s 11th final and they are looking for their fifth title, which would put them level with Dungannon, while of course Holy Trinity are looking to make the breakthrough after only reaching their first final at this level 12 months ago.
It is a final that has captured the imagination of all of Tyrone and beyond and with both sets of players knowing each other inside out it’s a contest that is expected to go right to the wire.
Holy Trinity haven’t looked back since they beat holders St Mary’s, Magherafelt in what was a must-win group game.
Since then they have accounted for a trio of St Patricks teams from Cavan, Maghera and Dungannon in the knock-out stages, with all three of those games going right to the wire.
They are a side who are guaranteed to play to the final whistle and the character that they have shown on their way to the decider should stand them in good stead.
They trailed Maghera by three points deep into injury-time when Michael McElhatton bagged a goal and they still had time for Ryan Quinn to kick the winner.
It was Quinn who was the match-winner again in the semi-final against Dungannon after they had squandered a six-point advantage going into the final quarter.
They will look for big performances from Luke Cullen, Conor Devlin, Brian Hampsey and Shea McCann in defence, with team captain Ruairi McHugh having a pivotal role to play in the midfield engine room alongside Jack Martin.
Up front they will hope that the likes of Conan Devlin, McElhatton, Quinn and Cormac Devlin avail of any chances that come their way, the latter a likely starter after returning from injury as a substitute last day out.
Omagh CBS were among the favourites for the title before a ball was kicked and they will carry that tag into the decider as well.
They looked very impressive when easing through their group with the minimum of fuss but in the knock-out stages they have shown that they can battle and scrape out wins if needed as well.
In the quarter final against St Colman’s, they trailed by two points with six minutes to play but they managed to turn things around to win by the same margin.
Last day out against Patrician High, Carrickmacross they were three behind early in the second half but again they showed their worth to level matters before Conor Owens popped up with the priceless later winner.
Owens, like a number of players from both sides, has county minor experience from the last two years and along with Ruairi McCullagh and team captain Eoin McElholm will ask plenty of questions of the Holy Trinity defence.
Eoghan Donaghy and Charlie Donnelly form a mobile and hard-working midfield partnership, while Barry McMenamin, Caolan Donnelly, Callum Daly and Tomas Haigney are all capable defenders.
Neither of these sides know the meaning of the word defeat and don’t be surprised if extra-time is required to decide the outcome of the trophy.