By Niall Gartland
THERE’S always a few theories doing the rounds as to why Tyrone teams traditionally don’t fare particularly well in the Ulster Senior Club Championship, but Trillick manager Jody Gormley is confident that his side will give it absolutely everything when Crossmaglen rock up to O’Neill’s Healy Park on Saturday (7.15pm).
Massive effort was expended in winning a ninth ever Tyrone Senior Championship title, but Trillick have parked the celebrations and Gormley believes that Saturday’s mouth-watering encounter will be a useful endeavour no matter what happens.
It’s Trillick’s first game in the provincial arena since 2019, when they played out an absorbing contest with Derrygonnelly, eventually losing out in a penalty shoot-out – a tough way to lose by any metric but they certainly didn’t go down without a fight.
And St Macartan’s have reason to be quietly confident heading into this weekend – they’ve been thoroughly road-tested in Tyrone and Cross arguably aren’t the force of old, though Gormley is mindful that their opponents know the lofty levels that must be reached to excel against the very best teams in Ulster.
“Cross’ are the kingpins, aren’t they? So it’s going to be a real test for us. We’ve been there every step of the way in the Tyrone Championship and now it’s going to be something different, something from outside the county and it’s great that it’s Crossmaglen.
“In every game we go out to get the very best of ourselves. This is a big challenge but again it will tell us where we are in the greater landscape of Gaelic football in Ulster.”
Trillick defied the odds when they overcame holders Errigal Ciaran in an enthralling O’Neill Cup showdown nearly a fortnight ago. It marked the culmination of a memorable journey and Gormley attributes a lot of their success to the personal qualities of the players.
“We have a lot of young lads who are very committed to football and improving their fitness levels and skills.
“It’s a very humble group and that was evident after the (Errigal) game. It’s a big thing for our squad, that we don’t have any egos. Everybody works for the team and I think that’s how we have been able to cope with the losses we have suffered over the course of the season.”
Indeed, Trillick’s fitness levels were very much in evidence throughout the championship with two of their games going to extra-time. They were particularly ravenous in extra-time against Errigal Ciaran as they reassumed control of the contest.
Gormley said: “They’ve a very dedicated bunch of players and full credit has to go to them and the work done by Declan Campbell, he’s put a serious amount of work into them and you could see that come to fruition. Our whole focus has been on making sure our players were peaking at the right time and so far that has gone well for us.”
Elaborating on their strong finish to the Errigal game, Gormley says they were cool, calm and collected in the changing room before extra-time. From the outside looking in, it seemed like the defending champions held the psychological advantage as they’d scored the final three points to bring the game to extra-time, but Trillick knew they still had it in the locker to prevail, and that’s how it transpired.
“There was a period where Errigal did pull us back, but it was still fairly tight at the end,” commented Gormley.
“I think it was the only time we were in any danger and once it got to full-time, we still felt fairly confident as we knew how much work we had put into it.
“There were a few wee things to tighten up on, but we were happy in the changing rooms, everyone was calm, everyone was composed. We had to make a few small adjustments and when we did that I think it showed on the pitch, and we went out and played confidently in extra-time.”