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Veteran Ciaran Gourley's appetite for glory hasn't been sated

By John Campbell

Ciaran Gourley may be a triple All-Ireland winner with Tyrone but the 35-year-old defender believes that he can land another significant prize this weekend.

Schoolteacher Gourley, one of the most popular players in the province, will line out with Rock against Donegal title-holders Urris in the Ulster Club Junior football championship final at Owenbeg determined to write another chapter in his illustrious career.

Gourley's input has been immense in Rock's march into the decider, never more so than in the provincial semi-final against St Malachy's, Drumaness who had looked particularly impressive in winning the Down crown.

Yet it was in the Tyrone final that Rock encountered their biggest hurdle yet. Derrytresk proved formidable opponents, forcing a draw in the first meeting between the sides before eventually bowing the knee in a tingling replay.

Gourley, who marshals the Rock defence from his centre-half-back berth, accepts that it will take "a top-class display" if Urris are to be tamed.

"They have looked good and appear capable of scoring goals so we have to be on our guard. When you get to a final you want to win if you can and this is a particularly big challenge for us," maintains Gourley.

"It will take a top-class display from us if we are to come out on top as Urris will feel they can build on their recent form."

Seven years ago Gourley shared in Rock's last Ulster junior championship triumph and since then a tranche of new players have surged to the fore in the club's colours.

Chief among these is ace marksman Conor McCreesh whose explosive scoring feats have underpinned Rock's gallop into the limelight.

Manager Niall Conway has instilled a sense of purpose and fresh level of confidence within the entire Rock side which have stood the players in good stead to date.

Conway will look to the evergreen Gourley to provide leadership and indeed inspiration against an Urris side that stunned Armagh champions Keady Dwyers at the semi-final stage.

Now Gourley and his fellow-defenders will aim to curb the dangerous Urris inside line in which the predatory Peter Devlin is likely to constitute a major threat.

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