Clarke on the rise
SHOULD Dungannon Thomas Clarke’s manage to beat Dregish in this Sunday’s league clash, then it will be their best start to a league campaign since 1986. But the Clarke’s are taking nothing for granted.
Last season, they won 14 of 17 games in their league programme, and were only denied promotion by a 0-13 to 0-12 loss at the hands of Killeeshil in the final game, missing a late 13 metre free which would have tied the game and sent them up.
In the play-offs they succumbed to Strabane, but 2011 still marked a huge stride forward for a team which in 2010 had finished 11th in the division.
So far in 2012 they’ve picked up where they left off, and currently find themselves top of the division three league ladder with five straight wins.
In their 1-14 to 0-8 victory over Clogher last weekend, 12 of their starting 15 were u-21s. Their captain and full-back, David Walsh, is just 19-years-old.
They may be a young outfit, but they are no strangers to the highest level of competition. Kiefer Morgan, Matthew McSwiggan and Peter Muldoon have MacRory Cup winners medals.
Padraig McNulty was a Tyrone u-21 this year, Sean Molloy a Tyrone minor, Declan McKenna has had three years as a Tyrone minor. Colm Corrigan was a county minor last year and played in the Academy’s MacRory Cup final defeat. Midfielder John Loughran, who hasn’t featured this year so far, is also a Hogan Cup winner.
Manager Gary McConville admits that their decision to go with such a youthful outfit was due to a combination of choice and necessity. Emigration and retirements have played their part, but McConville reveals that his young guns have made light of adversity.
“Our training field was closed last year, so we relied heavily on the generosity of Edendork towards the end of the season, and it wasn’t opened until April of this year. In the meantime, instead of training we were playing challenge games against teams who had floodlights, and using Donaghmore for training sessions at 8.45pm when they could.”
The full story is in the current issue of Gaelic Life, published Thursday May 24. Buy your copy now in your local newsagent, or click here to purchase the pdf for just 90p.