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Nerves not a factor for Omagh St Enda's lead man Jason McAnulla

By John Campell

Jason McAnulla is already guaranteed one lead role later this year but he would have no objection to taking centre stage when he lines out with Omagh St Enda's against Slaughtneil in the Ulster Club senior football championship final on Sunday.

In a few weeks' time, 26-year-old McAnulla will play the part of Jack in the club's staging of their pantomime 'Jack and the Beanstalk' and his impending foray into the entertainment world is actually helping him to keep his focus in advance of the biggest game in the recent history of St Enda's.

McAnulla, a goal-scoring hero in his team's Tyrone championship final win over Dromore, has been a potent forward for several years having initially made an impact at minor level but admits that nerves will not be a handicap.

"To be honest, I was asked earlier in the year if I would take part in the pantomime but I did not expect to get the lead role. It gives me another focus and maybe helps to take my mind off the game to some extent," reveals McAnulla.

"Our manager Larry Strain is very good, though, at trying to ensure we won't be troubled by nerves. He's telling us that we have the work done and to go out and enjoy the occasion and not be nervous. In times gone by we used to get too built up for matches but now it's like taking care of business every match."

St Enda's lived dangerously against Coalisland, Dromore and Crossmaglen Rangers in particular and this has served to stiffen their resolve for the Athletic Grounds showdown, according to McAnulla.

"We knew that if we got out of Tyrone we would give the Ulster Club Championship a rattle. That's what we have done so far and hopefully next Sunday we can get the provincial title which is our objective," he states.

"We have been pushing for the past few years. The last two or three years we knew it was there for us and this year everything just fell into place.

"We've worked as hard as we've ever worked and got a bit of luck during the year."

And McAnulla, the team's playmaker at centrethreequarters, is lavish in his praise of new manager Strain's credentials.

"He knows us inside out and he knows what makes players tick. The managers that went before him - Seanie Meyler and Liam Grugan - had started building and Larry came in and freshened the whole thing up.

"His attention to detail is so professional - everybody knows their role in the team, it's not about individuals any longer," asserts McAnulla.

And while he expects a physical contest, he believes that St Enda's will be well capable of matching what is thrown at them.

"Slaughtneil will be no stronger than the likes of Crossmaglen, St Eunan's or Dromore so we'll have no fear in that sense. They like to get big hits in but we've plenty of men who can do that as well and we'll play football at the same time," vows McAnulla.

Belfast Telegraph

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