THERE’S a very different sort of backdrop to Tattyreagh’s championship campaign this season, but their manager Stephen McHugh is still relishing the prospect of facing Edendork in tomorrow’s first-round clash at Dunmoyle.
The Tattyreagh story should be familiar to you by now – Junior Champions in 2017, Intermediate Champions in 2018 to keep it short and sweet – but surely the notorious Tyrone Senior Championship will prove a bridge too far…?
They haven’t had a good league campaign, and relegation appears a real threat, but they still know what it takes to come up trumps in a winner-takes-all championship match.
McHugh commented: “We’ve still taken a lot of positives from the league. Division One was a real baptism of fire for us, but the boys have shown great character and resilience.
“I imagine some people thought we’d get hammered week-in week-out but we’ve put it up to a lot of teams. The club can take a lot of positives from the year so far. The lads are young and they’re learning. It’s been tough and unforgiving, you don’t get away with mistakes in Division One.”
Tattyreagh haven’t been helped by injuries to key players. Gareth Mimnagh and Eoghain Murray, one of the players of last year’s Intermediate Championship, are available after spells on the sideline, albeit Brendan Armstrong is still out and goalkeeper Ryan Pritchard has stepped aside this season.
Still though, the draw has been somewhat kind to them, even if Edendork made an unexpected run to last year’s senior championship semi-final, where they were unlucky to be defeated by eventual champions Coalisland.
McHugh said: “It could have been a Trillick or a Dromore or an Errigal and we’d be approaching the game differently. Edendork are a good side with a lot of quality, and Niall Morgan and Darren McCurry are back after playing with Tyrone.
“Put it like this, Niall Morgan’s red card changed the game against the Fianna in last year’s semi-final and they could’ve been in the final. They’ve a lot of character and belief in themselves. We’re not expecting anything other than a tough battle but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Tattyreagh have been on a real journey in the last few years and stunned the world of Tyrone football when they defeated Augher in last year’s Intermediate final.
It’s hard to see them replicating that in the senior championship, but it’s still worth posing the question – will their big-game mentality stand to them?
“Last year we were in the top four of Division Two when we were heading into the championship. When we got to the semi-finals we were able to field weaker teams in the league from there on in.
“Unfortunately we’re not in the same boat this year. We’ve an awful lot of championship experience but the likes of Niall Morgan and Darren McCurry have played in massive games in Croke Park. We’ll still give it our all and see where it takes us.”