YOUNG Coalisland star Tiarnan Quinn has lit up Tyrone football with his array of sublime skills. Just 20, he has already secured an O’Neill Cup, U17 All-Ireland and All-Ireland Schools’ medals with Holy Trinity, Cookstown, and is vice-captain of the Tyrone Under-20 team that will play the Dubs in the All-Ireland semi-final in the autumn. However his focus is firmly fixed on tonight’s (Thursday) championship game against great rivals Clonoe.
In his third year with the club senior team, Quinn’s first championship could not have went any better as he came on as a sub for the Fianna and kicked two outrageous points as they beat Killyclogher to claim the O’Neill Cup. However last year it was back to earth with a bump losing to Trillick by the slenderest margin in the semi-final.
He explained: “It was unreal winning the championship in 2018 especially in my first year. My family and all the supporters coming onto the field afterwards and the crowd to meet the bus returning to Coalisland was brilliant.
“The following year was the other side of it losing by a point to Trillick in a game we felt we should have won. That defeat still hurts. It was heartbreaking. We were ahead at half-time and didn’t push on.
“It made me more appreciate winning the championship the first year and how much work is involved when you maybe think it will be like that all the time”.
There is no greater incentive for the players than a Fianna – Rahilly championship game, one of the great rivalries in Tyrone club football. An added spice for Tiarnan and his family is they live in Clonoe where the atmosphere is full of anticipation.
“I’ve played against Clonoe at all levels and it’s always intense. They beat us in the minor championship by a point and that was very hard to take, brutal. I am friends with most of their players but when you go on the field that is forgot about.
“There has been a lot of chat locally about the game since the draw was made. There is some slagging out and about but it will get very serious on match night.
“There is great excitement throughout the club despite the limited amount of tickets. We have just focussed on our training and preparation and the committee sorts that out. It is not an easy task. At times this year we thought there would be no football. It is great to be back”.
Looking forward to tonight’s game, the young star added: “It will be very tough and with their new management they go in as favourites. Both teams have a good mix of youth and experience. Championship is special but playing the Rahillys in the championship is extra special!
By Ronan McSherry