Danske Bank MacRory Cup Semi-Final Replay
Wednesday February 27th, Athletic Grounds, 7:30pm
Omagh CBS Vs St.Patrick’s, Armagh
From Odhrán Crumley
You simply couldn’t write it. St.Pat’s Armagh are three points down with time all but up, they win a penalty. The pressure unbearable, the amount at stake insurmountable, another chapter in the fabled Tyrone Vs Armagh rivalry.
Martin Conroy, a Tyrone native, from the famous Moy club right on the edge of the border between Red Hand and Orchard territory, the River Blackwater separating these age old rivals.
Conroy steps up, the weight of expectations firmly on his shoulders, the crowd inhales, he begins his run-up, it’s as if time is standing still, the Moy clubman strikes the ball.
Eyes widen, others are closed, some more hidden awaiting the cheer or groans from those around them.
The ball strikes the back of the net, the game is tied, agony for Omagh, ecstasy for St.Pat’s, the place in the MacRory Cup final still in the melting pot.
To a replay they must go, back to Athletic Grounds, the venue of the McCormack Cup final at the end of January.
On that occasion, Omagh and Armagh went to battle, one could feel a sense of sparring or jousting on that night. It was as if both sides knew that a bigger test lay ahead, that there would be more on the line, down the line.
The aforementioned Conroy did not play on that night as Omagh romped home to an eleven point victory.
For many a year, the winning of the McCormack Cup was seen as a curse, the success did not transcend into MacRory success.
Last year, St.Ronan’s Lurgan debunked this old wives tail by claiming the double, CBS will be hoping that history can repeat itself on that front.
Both sides and both respective managers in Sean O’Kane and Kieran Donnelly know the strengths and more importantly the weaknesses of their opponents.
Omagh will feel that they really missed the boat by failing to capitalise on Saturday, a series of miscued effort’s led to lead being faltered and their belligerence was punished by the never say die attitude of their opponents.
Liam Gray was the star for the Christian Brothers in the drawn game, kicking 0-4 from midfield. Conroy led his teams charge with 1-3 including a season saving and maybe defining last gasp goal.
They say that the team that wins a replay, is the team that learns most from the drawn game and makes those subtle tweaks.
Enniskillen sit already in the final and will be afforded the opportunity to learn more about their final opponents.
There’s not much that either side doesn’t already know about each other, Armagh will be hoping to establish their rhythm earlier in the day.
Omagh will be looking for a similar performance as their first half with a more clinical nature in their finishing.
Come 9pm tonight after what is expected to be another dramatic contest, we will know the pairing for the 2019 MacRory Cup Final and who that will be?
Well, that’s anyone’s guess.