McCusker ready for another battle royale

By Niall Gartland

LEAGUE form counts for very little in the bearpit that is the Tyrone Senior Club Championships but Dromore’s Ryan McCusker says they have no issue whatsoever with the traditional knock-out format.

Dromore finished top of the pile in Division One but already two of the four semi-finalists, namely Killyclogher and Carrickmore, have been eliminated from the championship following last weekend’s first-round clashes.

Galbally weren’t a million miles away from pulling off an upset on a stormy day in Carrickmore but Dromore kept their nerve when the game was in the melting pot to progress to a quarter-final meeting with Dungannon, which will be played this Sunday afternoon in Dunmoyle.

It’s a repeat of a thrilling round one clash two years ago, Dromore edging a high-scoring contest after extra-time under lights at O’Neill’s Healy Park en route to claiming the O’Neill Cup.

Sunday’s match will no doubt be fiercely contested but McCusker has embraced the do-or-die nature of the championship.

“Every game is tough in the Tyrone Championship. Galbally came up from Intermediate and gave us a real battle, they were very good. We’ll not fear anyone but we know it’ll be tough this weekend.

“It’s ruthless, two of the top four teams in the league are already out of the championship but that’s just the way it is. We train all year for these days and we lembrace it.”

McCusker, whose driving runs at the heart of the Galbally defence were a significant factor in Dromore’s victory, knew they had to manage the game extremely carefully in the second-half as their opponents had a significant wind-advantage. Dromore held a two-point lead at the interval and the margin was the same at the final whistle, a testament to how they handled the conditions.

“The management said to us that it was about controlling the ball in the second-half. We knew Galbally would have the wind so they could shoot for scores from around the 45, so we pressed them really high and tried to control the ball. We kept the ball as long as we possibly could so we’re happy with how it worked out.”

Dromore’s subs also made a significant impact in their 1-8 to 2-3 victory over the Pearses. Oran Sludden kicked the final score of the game deep into stoppage time while the two Ronan McNabbs were also sprung from the bench and made a positive impact.

“A good bench wins you games, there’s no doubt about it. We’ve built a strong squad in the last few years and that’s been one of our biggest things. We’ve tried to get 21 or 22 players we can use in a game, there’s no point just having 15 good players.”

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