Fintona veteran McCarroll ready for the big step up

By Niall Gartland

THE All-County Leagues will step another notch this Friday night with the commencement of Division Two senior football.

Initially, Division One was scheduled to begin in tandem with Division Two, but the Tyrone CCC have taken the decision to postpone top-flight football by a week as the starred games have had to be reconfigured.

It emerged last week that Donaghmore’s senior intercounty duo Conor Cush and Lorcan Quinn have withdrawn from the squad, and the Tyrone CCC released a statement to clubs confirming that “we are visiting the Division One fixtures and will be drawing up a new set based around the current intercounty panel members. We will have these fixtures out to the clubs on or before the 26th of May.”

New to Division Two, meanwhile, are Moortown and Greencastle following last season’s relegations, while Cookstown, Fintona and Drumragh were promoted from Division Three.

2023 was a wildly successful season for Fintona, winning a long-awaited Junior Championship title and now they will field in the Intermediate ranks for the first time since 2008 (they get their campaign underway on Friday week against Beragh).

One of their veteran footballers, Eugene McCaroll, says that they realised a few years ago that they really needed to up their efforts and all the hard work has certainly paid off for the Pearses.

He said: “It’s been quite a few years coming, but to be back in Division Two is great, it’s great for the club and great for the town.

“Three years ago we never won a match and I think that clicked with a lot of players. It was an embarrassment for the players and the club.”

He continued: “So we knuckled down and every man in the club just pulled together. And each year we climbed the ladder, and finally last year we got over the line.”

McCarroll says that a realistic target for the club would be to consolidate their Intermediate status, but nor will they be limiting themselves and they’ll play it by ear in that respect.

“The approach is the same as last year, to take every game as it comes. You try your best in every game, and it doesn’t matter who it is, you set yourself up to try and win that match, and then you’ll see where you are at at the end of the year.

“Realistically, I suppose, you would want to stay in Intermediate. That’s the target for us this year, but at the same time we’ll fear nobody and we’ll take on everybody as it comes.”

Remaining in charge of the team is Derrygonnelly native Martin Greene. They have a wealth of talented younger players coming through the ranks, and Caolan Donnelly made a big impression when sprung from the bench in Tyrone’s u-20 All-Ireland final win over Kerry last Sunday.

“We have a great youth set-up at the minute, and it’s good to finally get it through into that senior set-up, which can be the hardest thing to do, and hopefully we’ll keep bleeding men into that and get stronger as the years go on.

“There’s a lot of very good footballers, but most importantly good lads, who are willing to put the work in and do what needs to be done to win a match.

“It’s great to have them in, and they’re only going to get better.”

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