By Barry O’Donnell
OMAGH CBS captain Eoin McElholm is hopeful that the ‘good spirit and vibe’ which has existed within the MacRory squad for the whole year can help them overcome one final hurdle this weekend.
The Brothers had to dig themselves out of a hole in both their MacRory Cup quarter-final and semi-final ties, having trailed in each by three points in the second half, but they summoned up the resolve and character on both occasions to overturn the deficit.
Talented Loughmacrory attacker McElholm felt that the comebacks spoke volumes for the cameraderie within the camp which has flourished as the season has unfolded.
“ That’s what you have to believe when the competition starts, that you can go all the way and that you can push on and win it. There’s definitely a good team spirit and a good vibe in the squad.
“ The quarter-final (vs St Colman’s) was a tough battle too, we just nipped it and got over the line. Carrickmacross then (semi-final) were big and physical but we showed fight and belief to get over the line there too.”
McElholm played alongside a number of the Holy Trinity players in last season’s Tyrone Minor side which annexed Ulster League and Championship honours. He feels that the experience of playing on big stages should hopefully stand to his side when they take to the field at Haely Park for the blue riband Ulster Schools fixture.
“ It’s a huge occasion, it’s one of the reasons I went to this school is to play MacRory Cup football so it’s great being in the final.
“A lot of us have played Tyrone Championship over the years and have played Championship football with their senior clubs. I think that’ll definitely help with the big crowd in Healy Park on the 12th.”
McElholm does admit though that Holy Trinity’s squad will be motivated by the pain of missing out on glory in last year’s final, when Eoin’s father John overseen their demise as manager of St Mary’s Magherafelt.
“ We know they’ve the experience of last year, they’ve been through all this and all the preparation and know what to expect. You have to put them as favourites because they’ve been there and lost out to a very strong St Mary’s team.”
The fortunes of Omagh CBS are beuing guided by some seasoned operators along the sidelines in Diarmuid McNulty, Ciaran McBride and Pat McNabb. Eoin acknowledes that they are lucky to be able to tap into such a font of knowledge when it comes to Ulster Schools football.
“ Mr McNulty has been there and done it, won a MacRory, won a Hogan, he captained the MacRory the year they didn’t win. Mr McBride, everyone knows what he’s done with Tyrone and as a manager and the same with Mr McNabb, they’ve been a great influence on the team.”
Eoin accepts that the CBS are long overdue a return to the winners enclosure in the MacRory Cup given the litany of losses they have suffered since last annexing the trophy in 2007.
“It has been a while, I think we’ve been in four finals since the last time we won one but just haven’t got over the line, so it’s good to get back to the final.
“ The vibe in the school is good, teachers are buzzing, classroom assistants are congratulating you, first years coming up to you, it’s a very good vibe in the school.”
And while Eoin would naturally savour lifting the fanous old trophy on a personal level, he also knows it would mean a lot to his home club Loughmacrory, given the pivotal role its players are taking up in this year’s campaign.
“ Ruairi McCullagh’s still a minor this year, he’s a year below and there’s another clubmate of mine, Eoghan Donaghy, he’s midfield.
“ Even with the Dean (Maguirc) getting to the Markey Cup final, there’s a few Loughmacrory boys there, it shows that we’re an up and coming club.”