March was an extremely active month for myself as I attended many sporting events, including GAA, Soccer and the Omagh Half Marathon and Fun Run. In GAA it was a successful month for Tyrone football, with the Tyrone Senior Panel gaining a comfortable win over arch rivals Derry and a draw with Armagh, to secure promotion to Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League. Although the draw with Armagh came after conceding a last minute goal, Mickey Harte’s men will be glad to have achieved their target of a swift return to Division 1 for next season.
Success continued in the underage scene, as the Tyrone U21s began their defence of the Eir Grid U21 championship with a win away to Cavan. After a tough first half against a stubborn Cavan outfit Tyrone came out re-energised for the second half and gained a few vital scores to advance to a semi-final against Donegal. The semi-final was once again a game of two halves, and although Donegal’s early dominance rewarded them with a two point half time lead, Tyrone began the second half well against an ill disciplined Donegal and eventually advanced to the Eir Grid U21 Ulster final for the second consecutive year. They play Monaghan in the final on 6th April.
In soccer it was a busy time for the Fermanagh and Western league, Danske Bank Irish Premier League and Airtricity League of Ireland. In the Fermanagh and Western, Mulhern Cup holders Strathroy Harps advanced to the 3rd round of this year’s tournament after a 4-0 victory over NFC Kesh at the Omagh Lesiure Complex; while a feisty Omagh derby between Strule United and Mountjoy United ended in a 2-2 draw, which was enough to secure Strule the Fermanagh and Western Division 2 title – a remarkable achievement for the club in its sixth year of existence. Moving on to Crawfords Lane in Dromore, Tummery Athletic and Lisbellaw met in the Fermanagh and Western Division 1. The game ended 2-1 in favour of Lisbellaw, a major boost for their title hopes and a setback for Tummery, as the league title race nears a conclusion.
At the Brandywell in Derry, Derry City FC and Galway United battled it out in the league of Ireland, with the game finishing 2-1 to the Candystripes after two late goals from Nathan Boyle. The win helps continue Derry’s positive start to the season. In the Irish League, Ballinamallard United took on the champions Crusaders FC of Belfast at Fernery Park. The game looked to be heading for a scoreless draw when Crusaders captain broke the Mallard hearts with a header in what was basically the last act of the game. This result seas the Crues 5 points clear at the top of the table, and comes as a kick in the teeth for the Mallards who are fighting to stay in the top flight of the football league.
Finally, over the Ester weekend the 27th Omagh Half Marathon and 5k fun run took place on a blustery and wet Saturday morning, with thousands of runners successfully completing the run around the streets of Omagh town. The overall winner of the Omagh Half Marathon was Gideon Kimosop, an African runner who represents the Project Africa Athletics group based in Northern Ireland, who completed the race in a staggering 1hr 5 mins. The 2nd and 3rd places went to Gary O’Hanlon and Gary Henderson.
Congratulations to all those involved in the runs, and particularly to the hard working members of the Omagh Harriers Athletics club; the event was very well organised and a tremendous success, which has inspired me to think about entering it myself next year!
Congratulations 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!