CARRICKMORE’S successful Under-21 captain Ciaran Daly hopes that the team can carry the momentum from their County Final triumph over into the new year- when thoughts turn to their Ulster campaign.
The bizarrely protracted nature of the Tyrone Grade One Knockout competition in 2019 left a few teams having to patiently bide their time before the semi-finals could be fixed, but the one upside for Carmen of featuring in a festive-time final is that they will now be relatively match sharp as they focus in on the prestigious Creggan provincial tournament at the back end of January.
Early goals from Paddy McCallan and Daniel Fullerton, when playing with the advantage of a strong wind in the first half at blustery Newtownstewart, helped St Colmcille’s lay the foundations for a convincing 2-9 to 0-7 victory over Dungannon on Saturday afternoon.
While senior success has been relatively thin on the ground for Carmen over the past dozen of so seasons, they have achieved notable youth triumphs of late which augurs well for the near future.
A Minor League and Championship double two years ago and Ulster breakthrough in the Paul McGirr Ulster Under-17 tournament last season highlighted the conveyor belt of young talent emerging, and that impression was further underlined by last weekend’s latest underage victory.
Delighted Under-21 skipper Ciaran Daly hopes that further honours lie in store for this batch of players if they continue to demonstrate the same levels of commitment and determination.
“It’s massive for us. The youth coming through is second to none. There is a lot of good young teams coming through. Hopefully we will push on now and this is just the start of it.
“Obviously we knew coming into the game that Dungannon was going to be a massive task. We were playing Tyrone U20s a few weeks ago and we watched their semi-final afterwards and seen the performance they put in against Dromore so we put the heads down and concentrated on ourselves.
“Our semi-final match with Galbally could have went either way but lucky enough it went on our side.
“This team just always turns up on the big day and for Finals. We played with the breeze in the first half and thankfully it went alright and we got over the line.”
Daly was full of praise for the Carmen attackers who helped them establish an eight point cushion at the interval which Dungannon never remotely looked like clawing back in the second half, such was Carrickmore’s defensive discipline and organisation.
“We notched up a big score playing with the wind. We usually are happy enough to play against the breeze in the first half but they won the toss and opted to play against it.
“Thankfully in Fullerton, Cuddy, wee Stevie Grogan the young boys have great feet on them and we came out on the right side if it.
“The game was never over at half-time. We just got in and regrouped. We knew they would have a massive breeze favouring them but the management have made sure we are in great shape with our conditioning and fitness so we knew we had it in our lads to carry it through the full sixty minutes. It was a matter of going out there and showing it.”
And the Carmen captain hopes that his team can maintain their form on the domestic front onto the Ulster stage and perhaps emulate Dromore from last season in capturing the provincial Under-21 title.
“Our first match was in January so it has been a long year. It (U21 competition) kept being put off and put off but with injuries it actually worked out well for us. Hopefully now we will get a week or two off and will go again in Ulster.
“We have nothing to lose. It’s great to be there. It’s a bonus so we will give it a rattle and see where it gets us.”