IT has been a decade of amazing contrasts for Trillick’s new generation of stars now setting their sights on the higher honours of Ulster Club glory.
Maybe some of those who witnessed their celebrations at Healy Park on Sunday will have cast their minds back just five years. In 2014, the Reds were humbled by a trouncing in the Intermediate final.
Just a year later they were amazingly back to clinch a first O’Neill Cup title in 29 years. Now, they’ve returned to take the title again and enhance their credentials after three premature exits in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Whether or not the current Reds will go on and emulate their predecessors of 1974 by progressing to the Ulster Club Final remains to be seen. One thing’s for certain, though, is that they were certainly impressive when disposing of Errigal Ciaran’s challenge before an attendance of some 6,000 fans at Healy Park on Sunday.
“This was an unbelievable success for us because since 2015 it’s something that we have been building towards. A massive amount of work has gone into making this a reality for our team and club,” said Daire Gallagher.
“Thankfully, everything worked out for us because Errigal are an excellent team, they’ve been at the top of the league year after year. The fact that we defeated such a strong team makes the victory extra special.
“One of the crucial factors I think was our ability to stay in the game during the first half. It might not have been the best spectacle, but the game went the way that most of our championship matches had gone this year.
“Our ability to lock things down in the second half and take control was important as well. It’s a testament to every player on the team and the effort that they made.”
The St Macartan’s, of course, have a long history of achievement in the Tyrone championship. Their success on Sunday was the club’s eighth overall, and further enhanced the reputation of this latest team from the club to make their mark.
After an outstanding period of dominance from 1974 until 1986 when the famous Reds won five titles in 1974, 1975, 1980, 1983 and 1986, they went 29 years without adding another.
That gap was bridged in 2015 and now the players of 2019 have added a second title, and with it the opportunity to make their mark on the Ulster Club championship.
They now await the winners of Derrygonnelly and Cargin in the quarter finals, knowing that the prize for them is to improve on Tyrone’s dismal record in the competition.
For the moment, though, the focus has been on the celebrations which have continued with enthusiasm earlier this week.
“Our focus is going to be on the Ulster Club now, so there’s not going to be much time to celebrate this success. But we’re going to enjoy winning this and then focus in again on either Cargin or Derrygonnelly,” added Gallagher.
“That game won’t be easy no matter who comes through that game. But the chance is there for us to continue this journey and we know that it’s an opportunity which is there to be grasped.”