By Niall Gartland
CLUBS spanning the length and breadth of the catchment area are represented on the Omagh CBS panel, something that they’ve turned into a real asset according to their joint-manager Diarmaid McNulty.
McNulty won a Hogan Cup during his own schooldays at ‘the Brothers’ back in 2007, kicking three points in the final against Tralee CBS, so there’s a real sense that things have come full circle for the Gortin man.
This is is first year teaching at the school, and he’s been entrusted with managing the MacRory Cup team alongside Pat McNabb and Ciaran McBride. A particular source of pride is the fact they have young lads from thirteen different clubs rowing together in the one direction.
“We’ve got thirteen clubs represented. We’ve two from Gortin, four from Glenelly, a few from Eskra and Beragh, and then you’ve got players from Division One teams like Omagh, Dromore, Carrickmore and Loughmacrory. Bringing them all together and playing under the one umbrella has been a thing we’ve really pushed this year.
“We really understand the club is where the heart is for them but it’s nice to bring them all together to represent the school because, probably more than any other time at their life, they literally live with each other more or less, Monday to Friday, and socialise together and maybe play at county level together.
“So the boys know each other and sometimes Pat and I stand back at training and just watch and appreciate the great camaraderie that exists among the players.”
In terms of his own personal journey, McNulty took the road less travelled. His own playing career was prematurely ended by a series of concussions, and he spent much of the last decade in Scotland. During his time there spent six years years managing Dundee University’s mens and ladies teams as well as two years in charge of the Scotland team. Now he’s back on home soil, managing his native Glenelly and teaching at his old alma mater on the Kevlin Road.
“I did my teacher training over there and stayed in Scotland for six years after that. I came home and was with St Conor’s in South Derry – it wasn’t a good place to be as a Tyrone man!
“Then I luckily got the job last year when there was a few movements and teachers retiring. It was the first PE job since 2007 in Omagh and I’m delighted to have got it. To be put in charge of the MacRory team is a fantastic honour and one I really cherish and I’ll do everything I can to hopefully get us across the line.”
Kieran Donnelly was a familar figurehead on the Omagh CBS team stretching back more than a decade. The Fermanagh senior intercounty manager has taken a step back, but that doesn’t mean that McNulty doesn’t mine him for information.
“Everyone knows an intercounty manager has so many things to deal with, and dealing with that pressure of a MacRory Cup, where there’s a lot of very keen 16-17-18 year old lads champing at the bit, would be more or less near impossible.
“I think he’s appreciated the need to take a step back but there’s no point in telling a lie, I’ve been bouncing a lot of things off him because he’s had loads of these experiences.
“It’s great being able to get backing from him, Finnian Moriarity and Conor McFlynn. You’ve Noel Donnelly and the principal Mr McConnell as well, who backs us as much as he can and it’s all very much appreciated.”
While Omagh CBS have some players who are already well-known faces, like last year’s Tyrone minor captain Eoin McElholm, there are others less accustomed to the big day. McNulty says preparation is key to ensuring they play the game, not the occasion.
“The best way to do that is making sure your preparation is good. We’ve been really focused on making it one day at a time, never looking beyond that, and we know that come Sunday, once you cross the white line, all the other things will happen but we can only really focus on the controllables. Training will be based on the game, not doing interviews or anything like that.
“What comes afterwards will come but the only thing at the moment is the O’Neill’s Size Five.”