Dromore do just enough to see off Galbally in awful weather

Dromore (in yellow) and Galbally produced a gripping contest in the Tyrone SFC first round. Pic: Oliver McVeigh
Dromore (in yellow) and Galbally produced a gripping contest in the Tyrone SFC first round. Pic: Oliver McVeigh Dromore (in yellow) and Galbally produced a gripping contest in the Tyrone SFC first round. Pic: Oliver McVeigh

Connolly’s of Moy Tyrone SFC round one: Dromore St Dympna’s 1-8 Galbally Pearse’s 2-3

DROMORE boss Ryan McMenamin said he was “off to decompress after that craziness” following his club’s gutsy display to hold off Galbally in awful conditions at Carrickmore.

The players would barely have been wetter swimming up from the ocean depths on a rain-sodden, windswept day but produced an enthralling contest nevertheless. Most scores came from play, only two from placed balls, both for Galbally.

The Pearse’s appeared to have done enough in a remarkable first half, with goals from their wing-backs John Hetherington and Marc Lennon drawing them level after a dreadful start, and helping to trail by just two points despite playing into the teeth of the gale, 2-1 to 1-6.

However, Galbally lacked drive and accuracy in the second half, registering six second half wides after the break following just one in the first half.

Dromore played with more calmness and composure, although they had to survive a late scramble with normal time almost up, Lennon denied by a save from aptly-named goalkeeper Mark McGale.

Conor Donaghy converted the consequent ‘45’, to leave just the minimum margin between the teams, but it was Dromore who looked more likely to get the crucial next score.

They shot wide and then short in added time but in the fifth extra minute they broke once, with Ronan McNabb Jr brilliantly keeping the ball in on the left side-line, and the experienced Niall Sludden set up his younger brother Oran Sludden to seal the victory.

Dromore boss ‘Ricey’ McMenamin admitted his nerves were almost gone at the end - “They were jangling, they were jangling” – but insisted that his side were prepared for the battle that ensued:

“We knew the weather conditions were going to level everything up. We had enough chances to put them away but didn’t take them.

“Galbally came down and in fairness Mark took a great catch on the goal-line in those conditions. The lads showed great resolve and we’re just happy to get through. You don’t care how you get through the first round.”

With both sides having to change from their usual first choice blue - Galbally in white, Dromore in yellow – the latter made a strong start, taking advantage of the howling wind at their backs to lead by 1-3 to no score within nine minutes.

Niall Sludden notched two points inside the opening minute and then supplied fellow forward Declan McNulty for that goal, after Ciaran McCoy turned over the ball at midfield, was fouled, and kicked the free in quickly to Colm O’Neill pushing up.

However, Galbally made the perfect response in the 13th minute when Cormaic Donnelly ran powerfully from midfield and found Sean Wylie, who delivered a delightful kick-pass to wing-back John Hetherington, and he finished coolly to the net.

Five minutes later, astonishingly, the Pearse’s were level. Daniel Kerr and Morris combined to free Mark Donnelly and although his shot was parried left by McGale Galbally gathered the ball and sent it back across to Lennon, who palmed in at the back post.

The Pearse’s would even have been in front only for a flying save by Niall Sludden from Mark Donnelly, and then full-back Peter Teague demonstrated his versatility too, surging forward to score two points.

McGale dived to his left to deny another goal for Galbally, from attacker Conor Donaghy, before Kerr converted the first score from a free, to leave it 1-6 to 2-1 at half-time to Dromore.

“We were content enough going in at half-time,” insisted McMenamin. “We said to the boys it was going to come down to the last two minutes.”

And then some.

Although Galbally twice halved the gap to a mere one point they could not equalise. Indeed Dromore seemed more threatening, with Tiarnan Sludden almost forcing in a goal after McGeary fumbled a free from McNulty.

Niall Sludden edged them two ahead again and Dromore ran down the clock, passing and passing and passing to retain possession.

That was a rare lull dull though in a dramatic clash, even though Galbally seemed to take patience to extremes.

The Pearse’s pushed hard to win, or at least draw level, but Dromore countered at the very end to ensure a re-match with the Clarke’s, whom they dethroned as champions two years ago after extra time in a high-scoring thriller.

This provided far fewer scores, but the character and quality on show was a credit to both clubs.

Dromore: M McGale; N McCarron, P Teague (0-2), C O’Neill; E O’Neill, R McCusker, C O’Hara (0-1); C McCoy, S McNabb; O Rafferty, C MacRory, A O’Donnell; D McNulty (1-0), T Sludden (0-1), N Sludden (0-3).

Substitutes: C Colton for O’Donnell (h-t); T McCarron for E O’Neill (39); R McNabb Jr for MacRory (43); O Sludden (0-1) for McNulty (54); R McNabb Sr for T Sludden (59).

Galbally: R McGeary; A Carberry, C Quinn, Connor Donnelly; M Lennon (1-0), M Donnelly, J Hetherington (1-0); E McGarrity, Cormaic Donnelly; S Wylie, C Morris, R Nugent; L Rafferty, C Donaghy (0-1 ‘45’), D Kerr (0-1 free).

Substitutes: S Murphy for Wylie (h-t); J Corrigan (0-1) for Kerr (35); S Hughes for M Donnelly (54).

Referee: Cathal Forbes (Ardboe).