CHANNELLING the pain from last year’s County Final replay loss could drive Coalisland onto ensure a more positive season this time around, according to the Fianna manager John McKeever.
The Blues were pummelled by a Mark Bradley inspired Killyclogher in the second instalment of the O’Neill Cup showpiece last October, a punishing defeat which led to much soul-searching around Fr Campbell Park.
However speaking in the aftermath of an admirable away league triumph at Dromore last Sunday, McKeever remained confident that the batch of talented players currently under his wing could still deliver the top prize.
“I’m very lucky to be working with a group of players with a brilliant attitude.
“They are hard-working. We are down a fair few in terms of injuries but our panel is strong. There was a lot of hurt after the County Final replay last year. We could have had it the first day and then the second day the game was cancelled because of the weather when we were ready to go.
“But if you use that hurt in the right way it will drive you on this year in terms of your motivation levels and desire to try and be the best you can be.”
Despite players of the class of Paddy McNeice and Philip Toner watching from the sidelines, Coalisland were able to withstand a ferocious late rally from Dromore at a blustery Gardrum Park to edge the verdict 1-12 to 1-11, with Tyrone star Padraig Hampsey playing a pivotal role in midfield.
McKeever was delighted to come into the home of the reigning Senior league champions and emerge with their scalp.
“You are never going to get an easy game when you come down to Dromore. I think their record down here speaks for itself.
“They haven’t been beaten at home in a long time. Our boys came down here with the right attitude.”
FULL ROUND-UP OF ACL ACTION IN TODAY’S ULSTER HERALD
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DROMORE and Killyclogher are the notable absentees in the Senior Football Championship quarter-finals after a dramatic weekend of action