Better late than never…it’s the DOCSport sports review for September. After a month of semi-finals and replays, which have carried some major GAA action well into October, it’s only now that we can begin to fully reflect on what has been a busy and enjoyable few weeks for football fans both locally and nationally!
As the autumn evenings shortened, we were treated to exciting Tyrone club championship fixtures up and down the county. Beginning with Junior Football, the Rock St Patrick’s began their junior championship campaign with a tough fixture against Loughshore opponents Brocagh Emmets in Stewartstown, and after a thoroughly entertaining game of football, emerged with a 2 point victory to advance to the semi-finals. A week and a half later, they advanced to the final, as a Niall McWilliams goal in the first half helped Adrian Nugent’s team to victory against Owen Roes at Healy Park. In the other half of the draw, Tattyreagh St Patricks and Clann Na Gael met for their semi-final in the Tyrone GAA Centre of Excellence in Garvaghey. On what was a cold evening, Tattyreagh recorded a 5 point victory thanks to vital points from James Darcy to reach their first Tyrone Junior County final since 2006. When the final came along, it was The Rock who enjoyed the ultimate glory, as they beat Tattyreagh by four pints. After a successful season Tattyreagh will hope that the play-offs prove to be a case of third time lucky as a route to promotion, having narrowly missed out on both league and championship titles.
In the Intermediate football championship there were semi-final victories for Mark Harte’s Pomeroy Plunkets, who recorded a narrow 2 point win over the 2013 Intermediate champions Eskra Emmets, and Derrylaughan Kevin Barrys who advanced to the final with a win over a battling Aghaloo squad, with a Ciaran Gervin goal proving decisive in a 3 point victory. When the two sides met in the final at Healy Park, it was Pomeroy Plunketts who came out on top.
Moving on to the Senior Football Championship and I attended two thrilling semi-finals at Healy Park and Edendork respectively. In the first semi-final Killyclogher St Marys successfully reached the county final for the 2nd consecutive year after a one point victory over Dromore St Dympnas. It was one of those championship semi-finals that could have went either way but Dominic Corrigan’s squad made sure that they were the ones to represent West Tyrone in the prestigious competition. Moving on to Edendork, and neighbouring clubs Coalisland Na Fianna and Clonoe O’Rahillys met in the East Tyrone derby. In what was an end to end game for 60 minutes, it looked as though the Rahillys had done enough to reach the final, before Stephen McNally stepped up to fist the ball over the bar and earn a replay for 14 men Coalisand who had lost sweeper Peter Donnelly to a red card in the first half. When the two sides met again, it was Coalisland who managed to make it through and set up and a meeting with Killyclogher in the county final. Again, in the final, one match wasn’t enough to divide the two teams, and after a tense draw and a replay called off due to a waterlogged pitch, we still await to see who will ultimately be crowned the best team in Tyrone for 2016.
Finally, we look back at the 2016 All Ireland final between Dublin and Mayo at Croke Park, where Dublin were aiming to retain Sam Maguire (and seal a 26th win overall) and Mayo were hoping to earn their first All-Ireland crown since 1951, having shockingly lost the last 7 finals since 1989. In what was an entertaining yet bizarre game, Dublin were thankful for a series of free-kicks and two own goals from Mayo defenders to make up for the fact that they only recorded their first point from play after 29 minutes. Mayo gave it their all throughout the 70 minutes plus added time, and were ultimately able to earn a replay thanks to a last minute point from their inspirational leader Cillian O’Connor. However, this first game would prove to be indicative of the frustration Mayo would feel throughout the final as a whole, as Dublin went on to win the replay by the minimum margin, with Cillian O’Connor failing to repeat his last minute trick, as he missed a difficult free to level the game in the dying seconds. Mayo will feel they missed another chance of All Ireland glory, while Dublin may feel relieved as they celebrate yet another Sam Maguire success, with manager Jim Gavin having furiously described their original performance in the first game as unacceptable.
Good luck to all the recent winners across the GAA. We look forward to what will hopefully be a fitting end to the local season in the weeks to come!