By Niall Gartland
CARRICKMORE’S first-round victory over Coalisland was a serious statement of intent, but Niall Allison isn’t drawn into the argument that the championship has suddenly opened up for one of the traditional powerhouses of Tyrone club football.
Put it this way – it’s highly unlikely indeed that they’ll get anything handed to them against a dogged and determined Loughmacrory side this Saturday afternoon, their parish rivals and a club that have made commendable strides in the last few years.
Carmen shaded a massively competitive league encounter that threatened to boil over in the closing stages earlier in the year, but Allison assures that they’re all rather matey off the pitch. That’ll be temporarily set aside this Saturday at Pomeroy with a place in the semi-finals up for grabs.
“I went to Omagh CBS and was in with Loughmacrory lads like Cathal and Aodhan Donaghy. A lot of lads from both teams went to the Dean and are friends but I suppose we have to put that to one aside on Saturday.
“There’s various friendships across the teams but we’re expecting it’ll be nip and tuck when the ball is thrown in. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, anyone playing Division One football in Tyrone can get the better of you. We can’t afford to get complacement, we maybe saw a little bit of that creep in during the second-half against Coalisland.”
Carrickmore have made commendable progress under Ryan Daly and Noel Hurson, now in their fourth year in charge of the team. They reached a championship semi-final in 2019, but their 4-7 to 1-8 rout of Coalisland a fortnight ago was arguably the best performance of their tenure. Allison, who is now 25, hopes it’s the start of something special.
“I’ve been around for a while and we haven’t really done anything when you consider the club’s past achievements, the best I’ve managed is a semi-final. It was great to put in that performance against Coalisland – maybe a few mistakes that led to our goals made it look better than it was, but it was good to get the first game over with to get rid of the nerves, and hopefully we can build on it.”
“A lot of young players have come into the team and a few got their championship debuts against Coalisland. We’ve had this management team for four years now, we know each other inside out and they know what works for us. Hopefully we can keep building on it.”
He also said it was gratifying to make amends for last year’s quarter-final defeat to Na Fianna, a particularly disappointing day for the club as they relinquished a healthy lead.
“We know we left it behind us last year in Galbally. We felt we were ready to go one step further, we’d put in a good shift in the league but the championship is what we wanted and we were devastated.
“We focused on our league performances again this year, there’s that saying that winning breeds winning so it was great to get over the first round and now we turn our attentions to our next day out.”