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Coalisland boys ready to renew an old rivalry

Dromore waiting in Tyrone final

By John Campbell

Dromore and Coalisland will go head to head in the W J Dolan Tyrone senior football championship final next month ? and it promises to be a cracking contest.

With Dromore having ended Cookstown's ambitions in the first semi-final ? Colm McCullagh was their hero with a stunning 1-6 - Coalisland took a centre-stage role at O'Neill Park, Dungannon yesterday when their potent mix of youth and experience proved too much for Donaghmore who had entered the fray buoyed by their quarter-final win over reigning champions Errigal Ciaran.

But while Donaghmore, sparked by their skipper Richard Hetherington and responding to the promptings of Kelvin Hughes, Damien McCaul and Niall Maginn certainly showed plenty of spirit, it was Coalisland who ultimately unleashed the greater poise and staying power when the heat was on.

Coalisland's marked progress at Minor level in recent seasons is now beginning to pay dividends in the senior arena and yesterday the team as a whole displayed the kind of character, togetherness and grit that augers well for their prospects against Dromore in the decider. And if Paddy McNeice reveals the accuracy that marked his contribution yesterday, then Coalisland have cause for real optimism.

McNeice landed seven points in all, six from frees while Patrick Kane was on target twice.

Yet it was Donaghmore who made all the early running and they fully deserved their 0-9 to 0-5 interval lead that was assembled chiefly through the combined wizardry of Niall Maginn and Shane Mulgrew.

The duo proved a hot handful for the Coalisland defence and looked to have established the platform for victory.

But when Peter Donnelly began to impose himself at midfield for Coalisland after the break, the tide turned.

And with McNieice eagerly snapping up the chances from placed balls that came his way, Coalisland slowly but surely took control

Donnelly's ball-winning ability coupled with the guile of Richard Thornton and the overall pace of the Coalisland attack saw Donaghmore concede ground.

Patrick Kane and Patrick Early all joined Donnelly and Thornton in looping over points that helped Coalisland to tighten their grip on the game.

Donaghmore, so lively and effective up front in the first-half, were unable to make any real headway and Coalisland's ten-point second-half haul underlined their supremacy during this period.

In contrast, Donaghmore could only manage to add two points to their interval total and the fact that they missed chances, too, did not help their morale.

Darren Cush and Gary Hetherington got on the scoresheet for the losers but this was a match in which youth, pride and a sense of adventure brought the considerable reward of a place in the county final.

And on the evidence of the spirit and confidence that Coalisland offered in the second half yesterday, who is to say that silverware will not decorate their trophy cabinet shortly.

Coalisland scorers: P McNeice (0-7, 0-6 frees), P Kane (0-2), B Toner (0-2), R Thornton, P Donnelly, P Early (0-1 each).

Donaghmore scorers: S Mulgrew (0-5), N Maginn (0-4, 0-1 free), D Cush, G Hetherington (0-1).

Referee: Kieran Kelly (Kildress).

Belfast Telegraph


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