By Niall Gartland
TRILLICK are one of the early pace-setters in Division One and maintained their unbeaten run with a four-point victory over Dromore last Friday night.
The 2015 and 2019 senior champions have usually finished mid-table in the league in recent years, the most obvious explanation being that it’s a natural consequence of missing three or four county players for a significant portion of their campaigns.
But Tyrone’s surprise early exit to Armagh means that they’ll be boosted even further, starting this Friday night against Killyclogher, with the return of Mattie and Richie Donnelly and Rory Brennan to the fold.
Trillick have fared well in their absence – they drew against Errigal on their first day out before claiming victories over Carrickmore and Errigal – and their assistant manager Jody Gormley is enjoying being part of the set-up this year.
A Trillick native, the former Tyrone footballer is Head of PE in Abbey Grammar School and has coached Down clubs Longstone and Bredagh in recent seasons. The pull of his native club and county is a strong one, however, and so far it’s been a hugely positive experience.
Gormley said: “It’s good to be home, there’s a great spirit in Tyrone football and a great spirit in Trillick and it’s good to be a part of it. The boys are working hard and we’re making progress, but you don’t need me to tell you that there’s a long way to go.”
The star of Trillick’s victory over Dromore was Lee Brennan, whose personal haul of 1-7 included a decisive late penalty. Brennan opted out of the Tyrone set-up earlier this year, but he’s been one of the classiest club players of the last decade.
Gormley said: “Lee is a quality player, he could be playing county football if he wanted to. When the chance is there he takes it. He works very hard on his game and it’s great that we have a player like Lee around, but there’s good players throughout the team as well who are just as important to us.”
Trillick lost last year’s senior championship semi-final to Dromore in an utterly gripping game of football. They gained a small measure of revenge for that defeat when they visited their rivals on Friday night and claimed the two points on offer, but it’s fair to say that both teams have bigger fish to fry and will count themselves among the contenders for the O’Neill Cup.
“It was a hard-fought victory, Dromore were without a lot of players like ourselves, but boys came and gave account of themselves. It was a feisty enough encounter, you wouldn’t expect anything else when you play Dromore, they’re county champions. We’d be happy enough that boys performed reasonably well, there’s still areas for improvement but we fought hard.”