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Lough look to step up

CHAMPIONSHIP victories have been a rare enough occurrence for Loughmacrory in recent seasons but there was no champagne corks being popped after their narrow one point success over Beragh last weekend.

Instead there was a sobering realisation, as talented young defender Conal Grimes stressed, that a repeat performance just won’t cut the mustard against Pomeroy in today’s Intermediate quarter-final.

Grimes, one of the lynchpins of Tyrone’s Ulster Under-20 triumph during the summer, was just relieved to have overcome a feisty Red Knights challenge but admitted that aside from a sprightly opening, St Teresa’s failed to reach the heights of which they are capable.

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“We didn’t really find our level at all. We have turned in much better performances in the league. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Beragh set up defensively and it was hard to break them down. We knew that would be their tactics going into it.

“It didn’t go our way and we made too many mistakes, with handpasses going to the ground and other handling errors. It just won’t be good enough the next day.”

Loughmacrory were four points up, when the concession of a penalty goal deep into stoppage time reduced the deficit against Beragh to the bare minimum. Fortunately for them referee Mark O’Neill blow his final whistle before action could be resumed.

While savouring a rare Championship victory, Conal felt that his side struggled to carry the favourite’s mantle into the contest.

“I would nearly rather go in as underdogs, you have nothing to lose in a game. Fair play to Beragh they put it up to us and after they got that goal at the end there was a point in it. Thankfully the final whistle went after that.

“We knew Beragh would be tough opponents. Even though we are higher than them in the league, Championship football doesn’t go by that. We are playing Pomeroy next and we are going to have to up it a lot more if we are going to get close to them.”

Grimes admitted that they will have plenty to ponder over this week before focusing in on a star-studded Plunketts outfit who put Newtownstewart to the sword in their first round clash.

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“We have a big week ahead of us at training. Playing the next week doesn’t give you much time to recover from wee injuries or niggles. Hopefully everything will click together now.

“This was my first Championship win with Loughmacrory in my third year playing so they are rare enough for us.

“In previous years we haven’t been good enough so the good thing is that we are in the quarter-finals.

“We were delighted to get over the line, that is all Championship football is about, no matter if you win by ten points or one point.

“We beat Pomeroy in the league so we have nothing to fear but they have a great outfit. They will deservedly go in as favourites with all the County men they have in their squad.”

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