JAMES Garrity was a mere spectator last time Trillick won the county title, but on Sunday he’ll take to the field with hopes of pocketing the most coveted medal in Tyrone club football.
Garrity, who was a regular starter on this year’s distinguished Tyrone U20 team, hopefully has a long and fruitful career ahead of him, but that doesn’t mean that he’s taking their O’Neill Cup final showdown against Errigal Ciaran for granted.
Garrity commented: “I haven’t been there personally so I’m just grateful to be involved.
“It’s an absolute delight to play on this team. I was in the stand in 2015 and it’s been a long wait to get back again.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise how difficult it is to win a Tyrone Senior Championship, and Trillick have already busted a gut in this year’s tournament with progressively more difficult ties against Dromore, Clonoe and then Coalisland in an absolutely unforgettable semi-final.
St Macartan’s were two points in arrears at half-time against the reigning champions, but they produced a truly remarkable second-half performance to claim a 0-13 to 0-12 victory.
Not for nothing is this renowned as the most special club competitions anywhere in the country.
“It was one of those games that could have gone either way but I thought we were hungrier in the second-half and wanted the ball more,” said Garrity.
“We didn’t have it our way in the first-half and let them get on top of us, but we really put it up to them in the second-half. We were far better coming out of defence after the break and always seemed to either get a score or put the ball dead at the other end.”
While only a youngster, Garrity kept his head in a competitive dual with Tyrone star Michael McKernan.
McKernan tested his patience at times, but Garrity says that comes with the territory in such pressurised matches.
“Michael is a good lad. We had our tussles but that’s part and parcel of football. The tighter the games are, the more pressure you’ll find yourself under.”
Trillick came from nowhere to win the O’Neill Cup in 2015, but they haven’t been back in the final since.
They relinquished a six-point lead in the 2016 semi-final against eventual champions Omagh, and they lost by a point to Ardboe in last year’s quarter-final, but Richie Donnelly wasn’t available on that occasion as he was recovering from surgery.
Meanwhile, Lee Brennan’s decision to cut ties – for now – with the Tyrone team earlier in the year was vindicated with a fantastic display of placekicking against Coalisland.
The Donnellys and Brennans are household names, but it’s fair to say that they have talented players all over the pitch.
The likes of Daire Gallagher, Ruairi Kelly, Ryan Gray, and Garrity himself have had fantastic championship campaigns, and it’s that strength-in depth which makes them favourites to take the title on Sunday.
Garrity commented: “Lee’s a topclass player and it’s been great to have Richie back.
“They’re brilliant at what they do and have been doing the business for us thankfully, and the rest of us are here to help them on. Every man has put their shoulder to the wheel this year.”
Trillick also have some top, top men on the line. Nigel Seaney guided Trillick to their first Tyrone SFC title since 1986 with their 1-9 to 0-11 victory over Killyclogher four years ago, while Liam Donnelly is a man who bleeds Trillick football.
“With Liam it’s just words of wisdom and everyone respects him so much. Nigel’s been there and done that too so we take on board everything they say.
“It’s been a tough run to the final but championship medals aren’t handed out for nothing so we’re just happy to have our chance.
“I was in the stand in 2015 and it’s been a long wait to get back again.”