MacRory champs Omagh CBS ready for next stage of the journey

By Niall Gartland

OMAGH CBS made mince-meat of their opposition in last year’s Hogan Cup competition, but manager Diarmaid McNulty knows it would be foolish to take Sunday’s semi-final opponents St Gerald’s, Castlebar for granted.

The Brothers overpowered Naas CBS by 4-14 to 0-8 at the same stage this time last February before saving the best to last on St Patrick’s Day with a demolition job of Summerhill College, Sligo.

The MacRory Cup is in the bag and now they’re two steps away from retaining their All-Ireland crown, but there’s a job to be done on Sunday afternoon at Ballyshannon before they can even think about a St Patrick’s Day outing at Croke Park.

McNulty said: “The big thing for me is that this is a new group. We’re playing against a Castlebar team that we had a friendly against 18 months ago, but they’re also a new group and they’ve had a great run to the semi-final. They won their semi-final in Connacht by a goal and won the final by two points, they’ve come through hard-fought battles and we’re expecting the same again this weekend.”

Retaining the MacRory Cup title for the first time in the school’s history with victory over St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon was a momentous achievement, but McNulty says it’s not really the time to sit back and savour it with a tilt at All-Ireland honours in the pipeline.

“I’m sure in time we’ll appreciate it but our season is still live and we’re trying to focus on the Hogan campaign. We’re still in the middle of it, totally focused on making the players as well-prepared as possible for Sunday’s semi-final and hopefully the final.”

There’s no shortage of class on the CBS team but they also have character in abundance, as displayed throughout their run to MacRory honours. McNulty singles out their response to a second-half purple patch from St Patrick’s Academy in the final as particularly pleasing from his perspective.

“When they scored the equaliser, the big thing for me was that the only one of their players who touched the ball in the next four minutes was the keeper and we scored 1-1 without reply – I think that was a serious response.

“If you look at the first half, we dropped quite a few efforts short and it became like a basketball game up and down the pitch. In the second half the ball went dead a bit more and we became more solid defensively. Those are the wee things we’ve spoken about this week and hopefully we get it right on the day.”

Their victory in the MacRory Cup final was the stereotypical all-round team performance. McNulty cites virtually the entire team as making a positive impact on the day.

“The boys were champing at the bit to get onto a good surface and play a fast brand of football and that’s what we did.

“Brian (Gallagher) was man of the match, he’s still only a sixth year. You had unsung lads like Mark Corcoran, Oisin Teague, Paudi Dillon, Jack Law, they were all immense. Blaine Lynch made a goal-line clearance for the second game in a row.

“Liam Óg Mossey showed a lot of positivity and leadership in the second half. Then we had the experience of Eoin Donaghy and Charlie Donnelly in midfield, Nathan Farry and Callum Daly ran the show at the back. Ruairi McCullagh scored seven points and to do that in a MacRory Cup final shows the quality he has.”

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