By Niall Gartland
EIRE Og hurlers deservedly retained the Benburb Cup, and Sean Og Grogan is now looking forward to an enticing Ulster Intermediate Championship opener against Fermanagh representatives Lisbellaw on Saturday afternoon at Pairc Colmcille.
These two teams met at the provincial semi-final juncture last year, but Carrickmore failed to fire on the day against the only adult hurling club in Fermanagh.
Sean Og Grogan, an attacking stalwart for Eire Og, is hoping they can produce a performance they can be truly proud of in their latest crack at Lisbellaw.
“They gave us a good beating, there’s no other way around that. They beat us out the gate in Clones so this is a massive game for us. We’re back training, we’re working hard and hopefully we can do ourselves justice.
“Lisbellaw were Ulster finalists last year and weren’t far away from beating Banagher in the final. We know it’s a massive challenge but this is what we play for and hopefully we deliver on our potential.”
The Carrickmore hurlers claimed the three in-a-row in Tyrone with a one-sided victory over Naomh Colum Cille. It was the first time in years they didn’t face their perennial rivals Eoghan Ruadh in the final, but they approached the game in a professional manner and won the title with plenty to spare.
“You can’t avoid the fact we’ve a great rivalry with Dungannon, but we prepared for the Naomh Colum Cille game the exact same way as in previous years. We’d the wind in the first half and we were able to capitalise on that. When you build up a bit of a lead, it can be hard for teams to get back into the game, and we never took our foot off the pedal. It was still great to win the three in-a-row, it was a case of job done really.”
It’s been one of the best years of a long and successful playing career for Grogan – with Tyrone he won the Division 3A league and the Nickey Rackard Cup competition followed by championship success with the club. Of course, there was one massive, massive disappointment and that was the tragic passing of his Tyrone teammate Damian Casey.
“On the playing field it was the perfect year until obviously what happened Damian. It definitely put a big dampner on things, and it has changed the perspective on life for a lot of us. On the field is was great, especially to put in such a complete performance in the Nickey Rackard final against Roscommon. Now it’s all about the club, that’s the good thing about the split season – you can give the club your full attention and I’m really enjoying my hurling at the moment.”
Grogan also explained that the Eire Og management team, spearheaded by Damian Maguire and Cormac Donnelly, have played a massive part in their recent success.
“Cormac and Damian came on board with the rest of the backroom team and put in a structure in place for us boys and we’ve all bought into it. We’ve worked hard and it’s paid off in Tyrone, I don’t think there’s any other secret to it other than hard work really.”
Eoghan Ruadh, Dungannon are also in action on Sunday against Donegal representatives Setenta in the first-round of the Ulster Junior Championship in Letterkenny. The Dungannon side claimed a one-sided victory over Omagh in the Tyrone Junior Championship and it would be no surprise if they mount a serious challenge in Ulster. They reached the Ulster Intermediate final in 2019, losing on penalties to Antrim side St Enda’s, and they have enough talent in their ranks to make their mark in the Junior competition.