By Alan Rodgers
ONE moment in last Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final encapsulated all that is good about what Conor Quinn has offered Galbally throughout a career which will reach another milestone when he lines out for them at Croke Park this Sunday.
As their All-Ireland semi-final clash approached its climax, he embarked on a big run upfield. Moments later he had passed to Daniel Kerr, and the key attacker wasted little time in dispatching the ball to the net. It was a seminal contribution from the full-back who’s value to the Pearses cannot be over-emphasised.
Now, as they prepare to line out at headquarters in what will be an historic day for the Pearses club, Conor Quinn is under no illusions about just how special Sunday’s clash against Rathmore will be. The result will depend on their performance, but first and foremost will be the task of enjoying a day to savour for the whole community.
“It’s unbelievable for us to be in the All-Ireland Final. We knew Saturday’s semi-final against Dunmore was going to be tough, the game was tight and thankfully the whole team came through and the three goals in the first half made a huge difference,” he said.
“Our journey to Croke Park has been just amazing. At the start of the year the main aim was to get back to Division One in Tyrone. Now to be heading to Croke Park is just brilliant.”
Quinn is one of just a small handful of Galbally players who have lined out at the 82,000 capacity venue before.
It’s an experience which he relished, but you get the feeling that this Sunday will be even more special as they prepares to play in front of the several thousands fans preparing to make the journey from the mountains of South Tyrone to Dublin.
“For me, it’s great to get back to Croke Park. This is something which everyone is going to relish. But we’re not just heading down there to make up the numbers – we want to give this final a real go and hopefully come away with the title,” he adds.
“Rathmore are going to be a serious side, and every Kerry team which comes out of Munster is going to be formidable opposition. But all we can do is play our best football and see where that takes us in the end.”
From their first round win over rivals at Pomeroy in Killyclogher in October, to the thrill of playing Rathmore at Croke Park, this has been a journey to remember for the Pearses. But the memory of their subsequent wins over Tattyreagh, Killeeeshil, Edendork in the county final and then Glenullin, Dungloe and Corduff in Ulster and now Dunmore, will sustain them as they prepare for perhaps the greatest occasion in the history of the club.
“We’ve got great momentum throughout the year. The game every two weeks really kept us going, but the wait for the Ulster Final set us back. Thankfully, we’ve been able to get back on track and the few weeks training since Christmas has been brilliant,” he added.
“It’s about getting out minds and bodies right for the final, and the occasion is going to be great for the whole Galbally community. The area had the tragedy of the Imelda Quinn being killed, so the whole area has really been needed by the whole community.”
Whatever happens on Sunday, Galbally’s performances on the knock-out stage have provided a real boost to the people and, with Division One football in Tyrone beckoning them in 2023, the task of winning the All-Ireland is the perfect way to complete an amazing campaign.