SOMETIMES having a batch of players on the county squad is perceived as an inconvenience for clubs, but Galbally boss John Moylan couldn’t be happier with their noteworthy representation on the Tyrone set-up.
Liam Rafferty, Conor Quinn and Daniel Kerr have been joined by a fourth member of the Galbally team, Ronan Nugent, who sufficiently impressed in trials conducted by the new Tyrone management team before Christmas.
Congress voted on a new split-season a fortnight ago, handing over the second half of the calendar year to the clubs, alleviating some of the problems associated with having ‘too many’ club-men on the county squad, but Moylan didn’t see it as a major issue anyway.
Moylan said: “The way I see it – and Dungannon were the obvious exception last year – is that anyone who wins a county title in Tyrone has a sprinkling of county players.
“It’s really the next logical step for Galbally, having three or four players on the county panel, so I don’t see it as a bad thing.
“Whenever anyone is on the county panel, they bring a lot of quality back to the club.
“They come back with leadership qualities, they’re not quiet at the training sessions, they’re willing to stand up, give opinions and share information with the players and management.
“Obviously it’s not ideal if you’re playing league games without them as you’re relegated from the championship as well if you have a poor league campaign in Tyrone.”
The east Tyrone club had a spectacular 2019 season, overcoming their neighbours Pomeroy in the Tyrone Intermediate Championship decider before bowing out in a provincial final against Monaghan side Maghera cloone.
They won plenty of plaudits along the way for their swashbuckling style of play, but in a way they were just as impressive last year.
In 2020 Galbally narrowly missed out on a place in the Division One final and gave Trillick a serious game in the first round of the championship.
Moylan was delighted with their progression, and he says the players have gained massive confidence from how well they fared.
“I was very happy with how we performed in the league, but only four of those matches were competitive because of the way it was organised – for example by the time we played Trillick in the league they were preparing for the county final the following weekend.
“We had four very competitive games against Donaghmore, Dromore, Coalisland and Dromore, we won two and lost two, and all the games were close.
“In years gone by we’d have gone up to Division One, and produced a serious performance one week before getting hammered the next day out.
“We had Trillick in the first round of the championship, we had enough possession to pip them at the post but we didn’t take our chances.
“They got a goal early on and heading into injury time there was only a goal between the teams.
“The lads gained a lot of confidence and they’ve realised that they’re just as good as some of the big names out there.”
It’s already a bit of a cliché, but the fact that Dungannon won the Senior Championship against the odds is also a source of encouragement to teams without a recent tradition of success. Moylan accepts that’s the case, but reminds us that the Clarke’s are a “bloody good team” in their own right.
“I remember watching their first round game against Loughmacrory and after the first three-quarters of that game, no man in his right mind would say Dungannon would win the Senior Championship. In fairness they blew them out of the water in extra-time.
“Others will say that they can match them, but I think a lot of this is unfair on Dungannon. The previous year they finished fourth or fifth in the league, which is no easy feat in Tyrone.
“Dungannon are a bloody good team and they were great to watch, I don’t think many people would have begrudged them the championship.”
Moylan also said he’s keeping a healthy distance from his players while collective training is banned.
“To be honest I’m not annoying them too much because when they come back I want them to be physically and mentally fresh.
“I think if I sicken them and put pressure on, they’ll come back jaded. I’m trusting them to do their own thing and I think they will do that, to be honest.”