For many for us the month of August was dominated by the Olympic Games in Brazil. As a self-proclaimed sports buff I of course enjoyed watching the Olympics throughout, but with the local sports action continuing, I still found time to cover some of the highlights.
We begin with the GAA and following the end of Tyrone’s All Ireland campaign, after their disappointing quarter final defeat to Mayo, the clubs throughout the county turned their attentions to the Tyrone Club Championships. The Tyrone Championship officially got underway with Castlederg St Eugenes v Beragh Red Knights, with the two sides battling it out in the junior preliminary round. After the first game ended in a draw it took a late Mark Corry goal in extra time of the replay to help seal the win for the Derg men, and decide a fixture which contained two thrilling games, both of which provided an exhibition of high quality scoring.
Staying with the Junior Championship, Tattyreagh St Patricks clinched an easy win over their well-known neighbours Fintona Pearses to advance to the next stage of their championship campaign. In the Intermediate championships Pomeroy Plunketts and Eskra Emmets advanced to the next round of their championship campaigns with wins over Aghyaran and Loughmacrory respectively. In the Senior Championship Coalisland Na Fianna and Dromore St Dympnas earned passages to the quarter finals with solid wins over Galbally Pearses and Strabane Sigersons respectively. I also attended Down GAA championship fixtures which were hosted in the magnificent facilities of Pairc Esler Newry, where Clonduff defeated Mayobridge and Bryansford got the better of Castlewellan in two reasonably entertaining games which saw many members of the County Down panel, including Benny Coulter, in action for their clubs. Finally with regards to the GAA, the Tyrone Senior Hurling championship final between Dungannon Eoghan Ruadh and Eire Ogs of Carrickmore was a hard fought affair, with the leadership of the outstanding Sean Og Grugan ultimately helping ensure it was the Eire Ogs who retained the Benburb cup for the third consecutive year, with a win of 3-14 (23) to 2-15 (21).
Moving on to soccer and I attended my first ever UEFA Champions league fixture between Dundalk FC and Legia Warsaw which took place at the splendid Aviva Stadium. The result ended 2-0 in favour of the Polish visitors, leaving Dundalk with a challenge in the 2nd leg which was to take place in Warsaw the following week. Despite the result the many fans in attendance were provided with an exciting standard of football and in return created a passionate atmosphere from start to finish.
Staying with soccer, August also saw the return of the Fermanagh and Western League for the new season. At Donnelly’s Holm Strule United v Enniskillen Rangers played out a 1-1 draw, with a late Connor McCullagh equaliser sealing an historic point for Strule in what is their first season in Division One since forming in 2010. Moving on to Fountain Lane and in an energised 2nd half Beragh Swifts and Strathroy Harps shared a point a piece. Despite Strathroy taking a 2-0 lead over the hour mark Beragh battled back with 2 late goals in the last 10 minutes of the game to gain what was probably a fair result. In the last day of August I travelled up to the Bawnacre in Irvinestown where a Fermanagh and Western Select, managed by well-known coach Harry McConkey, took on Mid Ulster opponents Fivemiletown United in a challenge match which finished 4-3 in favour of the Fermanagh and Western XI. The game was organised for the players of the Fermanagh and Western trialling to make the Northern Ireland Regions team managed by McConkey for the Regions Cup tournament taking place in November. A fantastic opportunity for the best footballers plying their trade in the league to play with one another.
Congratulations once again too to all the teams and individuals who gained success in the last month! We can look forward to another great month of local sport ahead.