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Errigal Ciaran up for cup in final

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

THE first ever Tyrone Senior Championship final between Errigal Ciaran and Omagh brings a thrilling series to a climax this weekend when Healy Park hosts the showpiece occasion.

And it's a pairing worthy of all the fanfare that will surround Sunday's Donnelly Vauxhall decider, which is certain to attract a big crowd to the Omagh venue.

Two famous clubs will do battle for the O'Neill Cup and the right to represent the county in the Ulster Club Championship.

Both finalists have made it through strictly on merit, but they had to negotiate some testing encounters before securing their places in the an eagerly awaited title shoot-out.

The St Enda's and Errigal are teams stacked with outstanding talent, an effective mix of youth and experience, and the ability to alter the strategy to deal with any given situation.

This promises to be a positive, free-flowing contest between two sides blessed with attacking talent.

Errigal have Peter Harte, Davy Harte Padraig McGirr and attacking wing back Mark Kavanagh, while Omagh's Ronan O'Neill, Connor O'Donnell and Conan Grugan have been in free-scoring form this season.

The Dunmoyle men, managed by former star Pascal Canavan, also have the experience of Aidan McCrory, skipper Cathal McRory, Bryan Horisk and Michael McRory, which will stand them well in a pressure-filled situation.

Omagh too have men who are well equipped to lead the way on a big occasion such as this, including captain Joe McMahon, Hugh Gallagher, Barry Tierney and Conor Meyler.

Errigal Ciaran manager Canavan has guided his side to a final in his second season in charge, and he feels it's like old times, with the local community buzzing with excitement in the build-up to the big day.

"There's always a good buzz after any match you win, but when you have a county final to look forward to, it certainly adds to it," he said.

"People enjoy the win, but the next thing they're obviously looking forward to the next run-out, which is a big day.

"You have youngsters getting jerseys, all the excitement for families. It's brilliant, and when you haven't been there for a few years, it certainly adds to it."

This year's championship has been typically competitive and hard-fought, and he expects the decider to be another tight contest.

"A lot of games in Tyrone end up in draws, one point wins, so invariably it's always the scores at the end of the games that most people remember," said Canavan.

"It's going to be close, it will be the break of a ball, or whatever, that will decide it, but that's what you expect.

"Looking through all the games this year, how competitive they were, the likes of Omagh against Ardboe, Omagh against Trillick, Trillick against Coalisland, all serious games, so I have no doubt the final will be the exact same."

Errigal had to overcome Urney, Carrickmore and Pomeroy to get themselves back to the showpiece occasion, and they had to battle all the way.

"There's always a history with Carrickmore, then there was Pomeroy, with very little history between the teams.

"But we knew what they had come through, and even learning from what Trillick did two years beforehand, coming from the second division and actually going on to win it.

"We treated them with the utmost respect, and thankfully we just did enough to get over the line."

Now his side stands just 60 minutes away from a first title since 2012.

"When things are going well you think this is going to happen every year, but everybody knows how competitive it is in Tyrone, and teams like Dromore, Killyclogher, Clonoe, serious outfits. So it just leaves this all the more special when you do make it."

Meanwhile, Omagh manager Paddy Crozier is wary of an Errigal side that has won seven championship titles in recent times.

"Errigal have been a brilliant team down through the years, they have a great tradition since they were formed," he said.

"Everybody knows Errigal Ciaran and they haven't gone away. They were in transition there for a couple of year, but they're back with a bang.

"They're a formidable outfit, and we don't underestimate the task in front of us."

Omagh have the luxury of a two-week break following a hectic schedule which saw them play three games in the space of nine days.

"That was a tough, tough game against Ardboe. We had six months to prepare for that, and then the next thing, up creeps Greencastle within three days, and after that, Trillick, a very, very good team.

"We had three matches inside nine days, a lot of football, but we have come out of it on the right side, and all our panel of players are fit and healthy.

"Footballers will tell you that there's nothing like playing matches, but that was a little bit too hectic. If you come out of it on the right side, you're okay."

The former Derry boss has his side in prime condition as they go for a second title in four years.

"It seems an eternity since we started back in February, but the work that has been going on, they never stop, this bunch of players, they're near enough professional gaelic players."

And he has been captivated by the intense competitiveness of the Tyrone championship, which has thrown up many epic battles in recent weeks.

"It's unique this Tyrone championship. In Derry there's two or three teams, but this Tyrone championship, there's seven or eight teams can win it any given year. It's a brilliant championship to win.

"When you look at Pomeroy coming in and beating Killyclogher, and then they beat Clonoe, and Dromore getting nipped by Clonoe."

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