A PHOTOGRAPH of the three Beragh players who will be part of the Tyrone panel in this Saturday’s All-Ireland Minor Final now adorns the entrance to their St Mary’s Park home as the build-up to the big game reaches its climax.
It’s a remarkable achievement for the trio of Red Knights teenagers. For aside from the obvious challenge of defeating the Royals, the club will also hope that the efforts this year so far of Paddy McCann, Conor Owens and Fiachra Donnelly will inspire other young players in the area to also aspire to represent the Red Hands.
Over the years Beragh have had numerous players on Tyrone Minor teams bidding for Thomas Markham Cup. The Ulster title-winning team of 1967 also included three – Paddy McGarvey, Ben McQuade and Jim Gallagher – JJ Donnelly was on the very first Tyrone team to win the title in 1948, Colm McAleer was on board at centre-half-back in 1973 and Martin Rodgers played in the 2008 side.
Conor Owens has recently enhanced his reputation with a number of strong performances after being introduced as a substitute in each of Tyrone’s games to date. His goal in the Ulster Final against Donegal proved crucial to the victory, while four points in the win over Cork last weekend help send Tyrone completely out of sight.
While Paddy McCann has been consistently lining out at full-forward and Fiachra Donnelly has made occasional appearances also as a substitute, the performances and scoring of young Conor Owens have been stand-out moments for those from the club who travelled to the games or watched them on TV.
Owens said: “We set out at the start of the year to win the Ulster title. Anything else above and beyond wasn’t in our sights at that time, but it’s just great to be in the All-Ireland Final now and we’ll just have to focus on that and make the most of the chance,” he said.
“Thankfully, the players have dug deep and I think that just shows how tight this bunch of players are. Everybody is friendly with each other and the preparations have just been so relaxed throughout the past few weeks.
“There’s three of us Beragh players in the panel and I’d say the spread of players is amazing. No club is represented by more than five or six and that’s Ardboe and Donaghmore who are really strong at this age group. Every other club has two or three, which is good.”
See this week’s Ulster Herald for our full interview with Conor Owens