A REVERSAL of roles from just one year ago this time sees Trillick go into their latest Tyrone Senior semi-final clash with the added incentive of defying all the odds by taking another step towards retaining the O’Neill Cup.
No team has, of course, retained the title since 2005, 15 years when the county’s premier prize has been shared out among seven different clubs. More crucially, though, for the Reds is the record of the holders in actually taking that big step of actually defending their title in the County Final.
But it’s a statistic that the St Macartan’s won’t be too concerned about as they bid to overcome a Coalisland team that won the title in 2018 before losing to Trillick at the penultimate hurdle last year.
Their win over Killyclogher last Friday night and the exciting game which preceded the dramatic penalty-shootout victory has been deservedly lauded as a classic. Nevertheless, this week’s recovery and preparation will have prepared Nigel Seaney, Liam Donnelly and the Trillick players for another high profile clash live on TV.
Full-back, Ruairi Kelly is relishing the prospect of this coming semi-final clash without worrying about what might be ahead following the high drama Healy Park under the floodlights.
“It was good to get the win after last year, but this was a typical Tyrone championship game with the addition of the penalties. We know that every championship game is going to be tight, especially against teams that have reached and won finals in recent years,” he said.
“We’re just taking things one game at a time. That’s always been the way from the time that Dungannon embarrassed us in the 2014 Intermediate final because we were looking one step ahead of ourselves.
“The team was very young at that stage and we displayed the learning by coming back to win the senior title in 2015. It’s a case of expecting a tight game against Coalisland again on Saturday evening and seeing where that takes us.
“Nobody has retained the title for 15 years and to do that you need to win eight senior championship games in a row which is no easy feat. But we’re not looking ahead that far and are just concentrating on the semi-final. It’s good to have that focus and hopefully we can reach another county final.”
FULL STORY IN THURSDAY’S ULSTER HERALD