McMullan dedicates Killeeshil league exploits to memory of former team-mate Enda Hamill

By Niall Gartland

KILLEESHIL veteran Packie McMullan says that their Division Three triumph is dedicated to the memory of their former teammate Enda Hamill, who passed away last October following a battle with cancer.

Hamill was only 29 years old and was diagnosed after working his way back into the senior panel on his return from time spent in Australia.

McMullan says that Enda has been on the forefront of everyone’s minds as they came through a busy run of fixtures in the last week, culminating in their richly deserved league final victory over Cookstown on Sunday.

Enda was out playing with us last year, he was one of our teammates and he died right after the championship,” said McMullan.

It’s been a big motivation for us – we spoke about it before the game on Sunday.

That one was for him and hopefully it helps to honour his memory.”

Footballing matters pale into significance in comparison with such tragedies, but promotion into Division Two is still a big deal for Killeeshil.

McMullan, who is now 35, captained the side when they won the Junior Championship eight years ago, but they’d been mired in DivisionThree since 2015.

The way things have worked out, they’ll be playing their first Division Two game before the month’s end, and McMullan hopes their recent league wins over Kildress, Drumagh and Cookstown serves as the ideal preparation for the road ahead.

I think we’ll be an advantage as we’ve had three good games there. Depending on the fixtures, hopefully we can gather up a few early points because the season’s always easier when you get off to a good start rather than being at the bottom looking for points.”

Killeeshil qualified for the league final the hard way – they beat Kildress with the last kick of the game after almost throwing the game away, and they scraped past Drumragh by a point last Wednesday evening. The league final was a rather more straightforward affair as they overcame Cookstown by 3-11 to 1-4.

McMullan commented: “The league final turned out to be something of a damp squib because we were expecting a really tough battle.

We’d won our previous games by a point then the Cookstown match was nearly over at half-time, but there’s no doubt the Kildress and Drumragh games were deadly preparation for the final.

I remember after the Drumragh game, we said we’d got out of jail big time so we were determined to take our chance in the final.”

A raft of talented young players coming through the ranks have hugely strengthened the team in recent years (Pascal Donaghy, Thomas Hoy, Cormac Donaghy and Daniel Miller, who were part of the Tyrone U-17 team which won the All-Ireland in 2017, played against Cookstown on Sunday). Miller hopes that they can continue to show what they can do at Intermediate level under their new manager Enda Kilpatrick.

Killeeshil is the type of club where you’ll get a group of young lads who’ll come through and carry the team for a decade. Myself, Gary Reilly and Peter Scullion were part of the last Killeeshil team that won a Grade One Minor Championship, and now you’ve a group of six or seven young lads who’ll form the spine of the senior team for the next day years.

I was looking at the Division Three Shield, and there’s a lot of teams on it that we’ve played at Junior level, like the Rock, Clogher, and Aghaloo.

They may be a year or two ahead of us but we’ll be disappointed if we don’t at least consolidate our Intermediate status.

At youth level we’ve been beating those teams consistently so it’s just about transferring that to the senior stage.”

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