Drumragh aiming high in milestone season

By Niall Gartland

DRUMRAGH have been knocking heavily on the door in the last two seasons, but their manager Simon McGeary knows it’s not about to get any easier with four new teams in the new Junior ranks this year.

Stewartstown, Augher and Aghaloo were all relegated from Division Two last season, as well as Strabane, who play Drumragh this Tuesday evening in the opening round of league fixtures.

The Sarfields came agonisingly close to achieving promotion in 2021 and McGeary remains quietly confident that they can do something special to mark the club’s 50th anniversary.

“We’ve come really close between league and championship in the last two years,” said the native of Collegeland, Armagh.

“Last year we lost one game in the league, Eskra beat us and that was enough to deny us a place in the Intermediate ranks. If Eskra had beaten Cookstown in the final of the Junior Championship, we’d have gone up as well.

“It was disappointing, to come so close and not get over the line, but every year is different.

“We don’t want to put any extra pressure on ourselves, but it’s the 50th anniversary since the club was founded and it would be nice to mark it. We won the Reserve Championship last year so that’s in the cabinet, and the u-15 girls won their Féile a week ago, so there’s two bits of silverware there and it would be lovely to add another to it.

“It’ll be a challenge with four teams coming down from the Intermediate ranks, but we’re looking forward to testing ourselves against those teams. We’re keen to see how we’re going to perform and I think we’ve the players to compete with the very best of them.”

It’s been a long wait for the clubs to get their season underway, but McGeary says he’s understanding of the Tyrone CCC’s decision to wait until this relatively late juncture (when compared to other counties in Ulster).

“It seems like an inordinate amount of time was spent waiting about and it made it difficult to judge your pre-season properly.

“We’ve been looking at other counties up and running so we’re dying to get back at it and have waited for the games to come around. I understand why it’s been organised this way and it does whet the appetite a bit more, we’re itching to get stuck into the league.”

Drumragh are also represented on the Tyrone u-20 squad who will play Kerry in Sunday’s All-Ireland Championship semi-final.

Eoin Montgomery is the talented young Sarsfields footballer who will be hoping to progress to an All-Ireland final, and McGeary wishes him all the best ahead of Sunday’s clash in Portlaoise.

“It’s brilliant that Eoin is involved and he’s a great ambassador for the club. He pushes himself very hard, and it’s great to see him and the rest of the Tyrone u-20 squad doing well. He also brings that level of application back to our club and it pushes everyone else on, so it’s great for club and county.”

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