Gray savours Reds double triumph

By Niall Gartland

EVEN with the O’Neill Cup safely secured in their possession, Trillick midfielder Liam Gray says that it was important to the team to round off their season with the league title.

It’s been a magical season for the St Macartan’s, who completed a league and championship double for only the second time in their history with last Sunday’s hard-earned 0-8 to 0-7 Division One triumph against Carrickmore in the Brendan Dolan Memorial Trophy showdown at O’Neill’s Healy Park.

Naturally enough, the pinnacle of their season was their extra-time victory over Errigal Ciaran in the Tyrone Senior Championship showdown at the tail-end of October, but taking their foot off the accelerator wasn’t an option and they’ve ended up with another title in the bag.

Liam Gray, delivering yet another influential performance as they got the better of a gutsy Carmen team, commented: “We knew it was going to be a battle, and fair play to Carrickmore, they really put it up to us.

“We referenced the fact that we got such a boost out of winning the league last year and we were determined to approach it in the same way again. We said to ourselves that this is the start of a new season, so it was about setting the tone for next year.”

Indeed, Gray says that their run of league fixtures earlier in the season laid the platform for their memorable run to Tyrone Senior Championship honours. There were a couple of disappointing defeats on the way but they licked their wounds, absorbed the lessons and were ultimately all the better for it.

“The lessons we learnt from the league games this year really stood to us and it’s probably the reason we won the championship.

“We came away from the Killyclogher game feeling sick, they got a last minute goal, and it was similar in the Ardboe game, we had those games in the bag and lost them.

“But there’s such character in the group, we took the lessons and put them into practice in the championship, so it benefited us in the long run.”

It’s been a demanding period for the team fixtures-wise and their league final showdown with Carrickmore was their third knock-out game in as many weeks. They kept the show on the road after winning the Tyrone Senior Championship and were very unfortunate to miss out in a place in the Ulster final, but they never wavered and overcame Killyclogher and Carrickmore in successive weekends to claim league honours.

“The Tyrone Championship is the hardest championship in Ireland to win. You put so much effort into winning that and there’s naturally a little bit of a comedown period but thankfully we were able to get ourselves up again. We were disappointed with how the Scotstown game went but again we showed the character in the group to pick ourselves up and focus on the league and we’re delighted to end the season on a high.”

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