Omagh 0-10 Carrickmore 0-6
A STRONG second half showing on Saturday ensured that Omagh St Enda’s made it a double over their Carrickmore counterparts by adding the county u-21 title to the senior Championship crown they claimed a few weeks ago against the same opposition.
This time though there was to be no last gasp drama, Omagh’s victory built upon in a strong opening to the second half where they rattled over three unanswered points to put them into the driving seat. From there to the finish their superior efficiency and cutting edge saw them over the line.
A diagonal wind at Loughmacrory made conditions tricky for both sides in the early stages and it was no surprise that defences were on top in the opening half, resulting in a 0-4 a piece scoreline at the interval.
It was not a half hour which lacked in drama though, as it saw both an Omagh penalty saved by Carrickmore keeper Ciaran Grogan, while perhaps the decisive moment in the game saw the dismissal of Carrickmore’s hugely influential midfielder Ronan Grogan on a black card at the end of the half. The St Colmcille’s players, management and large support were left far from impressed on several occasions at the decisions of match referee Shane Dorrity and his officials.
It was Omagh midfielder James Mullan who opened the scoring, wind-assisted, after three minutes of play. Six minutes later, Rory McBride doubled that advantage from a free after Michael Gallagher had been fouled.
There were 18 minutes on the clock when Carrickmore eventually opened their account, Ruairi Donaghy converting from a free. McBride did likewise just a minute later to make it 0-3 to 0-1, before wing-back Sean Loughran, Carrickmore’s outstanding performer in the contest, started and finished a move which saw him cut the deficit back to just a point again.
With Carrickmore enjoying the momentum, Omagh produced a textbook counter-attacking move which saw McBride again finish, this time from play, to make it 0-4 to 0-2 with 21 minutes gone.
Carrickmore goalkeeper Grogan was called into action soon after, producing an excellent stop, but he was deemed to have committed a foot block and a penalty was given, the net-minder picking up a yellow card. Conor Meyler stepped up, only to see his tame effort saved by Grogan as Carrickmore cleared the danger.
Strong play from Carrickmore’s Conan McElduff in the full-forward line saw him offload to Dara Fox, who produced a stylish turn and point off his left side to leave a one point gap as the half drew to a close. In injury time, Aidan Fullerton combined with Ruairi Donaghy to produce a great run through the heart of the Omagh defence. He in turn was up-ended, and stepped up to the resulting free to level the sides at 0-4 each at the break.
As the second half got underway, Omagh seemed to click into their free-flowing passing game and Carrickmore struggled to contain them. McBride added a pair of free kicks, the second of which came following a push on Gallagher, before a mazy run upfield from centre-back Ciaran McLaughlin saw him hit a fine point to make it 0-7 to 0-4 with just five minutes of the second half played.
While Omagh upped the tempo, it must be said that Carrickmore also contributed to their own downfall as they went on to hit four wides in a row, three of which were from frees, as they repeatedly spurned the opportunity to cut the gap.
Carrickmore lacked a real cutting edge up front and when Conor Meyler produced a clinical finish for a point on 46 minutes, it already looked likely to be the decisive score of the game. Carrickmore were then thankful that their goalkeeper Ciaran Grogan was up to the task when Rory McBride unleashed a stinging shot, the Carmen stopper turning the ball out for a ’45. From the resulting kick, the St Enda’s men edged further in front as Joe Colton worked a clever one-two with Gallagher before sending his shot over the bar to stretch the lead to five points, 0-9 to 0-4 with three minutes of normal time to be played.
Carrickmore finally got their first score of the second half on 59 minutes when Donaghy converted a 20 metre free and a minute later Carrickmore successfully achieved a turnover which presented Donaghy the chance to further cut the gap to just three.
Carrickmore needed a goal and momentum seemed to be going with them but from the resulting kick out Meyler claimed a fantastic fetch which showed the St Enda’s men were not going to be undone. With the last attack of the game they grabbed their insurance point from the boot of half-time substitute Thomas Clarke to edge them into an unassailable four point lead and spark jubilant scenes at the final whistle as another title headed for the Healy Park trophy cabinet.