WE’RE approaching the tail-end of another long season though there is still plenty action on the pitch as well as the usual presentation of awards off it.
Tyrone picked up eight All-Star awards at the weekend which is probably par for the course for All-Ireland winners.
Congratulations to all those who scooped those prizes, they were thoroughly deserved. I was a bit surprised that Ronan McNamee and Michael McKernan were overlooked because they were brilliant in defence all year marking some top forwards, but there is always a bit of politics involved in these All-Star awards. I think our goalkeeper and full-back line should have swept the board but they tend to try and shoehorn one or two in from other counties, often putting them in positions where they don’t play. Look at Lee Keegan in at full-back, has he ever played there for Mayo?
But Ronie really should have got the nod for the job he did in those Kerry and Mayo matches when it really counted.
Fair play to Kieran McGeary for getting the overall Player of the Year though again if I was picking I thought that Conor Meyler just edged it. He was easily the best wing half-forward in Ireland all year though again in the All-Stars he wasn’t named in that position, which again was very strange.
Turning to the end of the club season, Dromore were deservedly crowned Tyrone senior champions. Last year we had great drama with all the extra-time and penalty shoot-outs, which was a great advertisement across the country on the standard of our football. It wasn’t quite up to that level this time around but it was still intriguing enough the way it worked out.
A lot of people would have expected Errigal and Trillick to make the final but Dromore and Coalisland had other ideas. Both had to scrape their way out of real jams at times when they looked in bother, and both made the final on merit.
In the first half of the final Coalisland were right in it and maybe Michael McKernan could have got a goal for them but no doubt come the second half Dromore were more than worthy winners.
I’m sure that there is still supporters of Trillick and Errigal ruing the fact they didn’t take their chances when on top and maybe then have a crack at the Ulster Club but all in all it was another good championship with some great games in it and some great displays.
I’m sure Feargal Logan and Brian Dooher took in a fair few games and seen a few fresh faces who they can add to their panel in the new year.
Unfortunately Dromore couldn’t take that winning run onto the Ulster stage like most other Tyrone champions over the decades. It’s very hard to pinpoint what is wrong with us in that provincial championship.
Maybe that touch of experience makes a difference and if a more recent winner like Trillick had another go, they might have fared better.
However Dromore were the best team in Tyrone and the early loss of Emmett McNabb against Derrygonnelly shouldn’t be underestimated. All year he was a go-to man for scores. Psychologically that was a big hit for them.
But over the years there seems to be a greater hunger among the Derry and Monaghan teams to try and win the Ulster Club.
Whether the Tyrone winners put enough emphasis on it who knows, other counties view their own championships as a staging post to go on and compete in Ulster, but for some of our teams maybe winning the O’Neill Cup is the be all and end all.
Going back to the Tyrone Championship for a minute, and a lot of people have had their say over the cost of streaming the finals plus charging u-16s to go to the matches.
Let’s hope the Tyrone County Board will learn a few lessons as it was definitely an own-goal from a PR perspective. These young people are needed to carry on the GAA in future years and we need to foster an interest in our games among them. I know that various groups around Dromore and Coalisland communities stepped in to offer tickets for free for u-16s but it really shouldn’t have come to that.
It’s the same with the streaming costs. It’s not all about the money, it’s about promoting and advertising the GAA, and taking into consideration those older people sitting at home because of the pandemic who can’t get to matches.
Looking ahead, the Tyrone Senior League will finally be wrapped up this Saturday when Errigal Ciaran meet Carrickmore. It was be tough enough for the Carrickmore lads who thought they had won the league before Errigal’s appeal to the Ulster Council over the wrong scoreline in the Dungannon match.
An extra week to wait at this time of the year can be tough in terms of training or keeping yourself motivated in the mouth of Christmas. Psychologically it will be hard to know what is going on in their heads but you can turn it the other way too and feel that you should be crowned champions already so let’s go out onto that pitch and prove the point.
And lastly I want to congratulate Greencastle, who I am involved with this year, on winning the Division Two title last Sunday to gain promotion because of a slip-up by Aghyaran. The scenes among the boys afterwards waiting in the changing room for that other result to come in were unreal.