By Niall Gartland
LOUGHMACRORY have shown in recent years that they’re by no means out of their depth in the highest echelons of Tyrone club football, and their manager Ciarán Meenagh is hopeful that they can continue to head in a positive direction.
St Teresa’s achieved promotion to Division One back in 2019 with a play-off victory against Eglish and it’s fair to say they’ve made themselves at home.
There’s been some hugely memorable moments, and they were a kick of the ball away from reaching the championship semi-final last year, but they won’t get anything handed to them by a formidable Trillick side in the first-round this evening in Omagh (8.30pm).
Meenagh brought Derry to the brink of an All-Ireland final appearance this year but he’s a proud Loughmacroy man and has been with them every step of the way in their ongoing journey.
Progress is the name of the game and they’ll be eyeing up a possible championship upset against Trillick tomorrow night.
Meenagh said: “This is our fourth full year at senior now and we’ve shown a degree of progress year-on-year in the championship. Last year we were very close to Carrickmore who ended up getting to the final and weren’t far away from Errigal. The ambition this week is to show further progress and we’ll see how it goes from there.”
While Trillick are shorn of a few starting players from last year, most prominently Mattie Donnelly, they’re a resilient side and had a very productive league campaign. They averaged only 10 points a game but they’re strong in attack as well and know what it takes to win a championship. On the whole it’s an exciting prospect for a young and eager Loughmacrory side.
Meenagh said: “I’ve watched them a few times since the draw was made and have been massively impressed.
“Mattie Donnelly, Michael Gallagher and Simon Garrity are big losses for them but the systematic way in which they play means they can slot players in and out.
“They play a deliberate style that makes them hard to beat but they have also been excellent going forward and have racked up big scores. We’ve played Errigal Ciaran and Carrickmore in the last two championships and now Trillick, it’s a privilege to be rubbing shoulders with them and hopefully before long we’ll be taking out one of the big teams.”
Talented young forward Eoin McElholm will line out this Friday evening before travelling to Australia to participate in an Australia Rules Football combine. Meenagh is totally understanding of McElholm’s attempt at making a fist of a professional sporting career.
“I haven’t thought one second beyond Friday, that would be foolish, but in terms of Eoin, he’s the loveliest lad and from a good family and we wish him all the best. On a personal level he’s one of our own and I wish him all the best.
“He has matured brilliantly, he was actually very young for his school year and I’ve been very impressed with his physical development. There’s a culture of doing things right at our club in terms of training away from our nights on the field and that’s something Eoin has really embraced alongside the rest of our senior footballers.”