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Dermot Carlin in race against time to feature in Red Hand showdown


Frustration: Dermot Carlin is facing a desperate battle for fitness

Frustration: Dermot Carlin is facing a desperate battle for fitness

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Frustration: Dermot Carlin is facing a desperate battle for fitness

Former Tyrone star Dermot Carlin has revealed his frustrations over his injury that threatens to curtail his involvement in this Sunday's county final.

Carlin's Killyclogher are in the showpiece day for the second consecutive year, when they take on Coalisland, (Sunday, Healy Park, 3.30pm), winners in 2010.

Killyclogher will not wish to repeat their fate last year, when Lee Brennan's fisted goal after only 15 seconds propelled outsiders Trillick to an unexpected triumph.

However, getting Carlin on the field is proving troublesome and he missed the bruising semi-final encounter with Dromore with a bulging disc hitting his sciatic nerve, leaving him with a pain from his hip to his smallest toe.

"I had a bad back, and I had an injured calf. I am just a walking injury!" said Carlin with black humour.

"I came back and tried to push myself because I knew the championship was coming and I pushed myself at training to get something into the legs.

"Speaking to the physio, he said, 'you know yourself, you have to slowly build yourself up to pace'. The body just shut down and said 'no, it's not happening'. It just flared up the disc."

His recovery has been aided by a change in circumstances, Carlin taking on a new job with Cathedral Eye Clinic and taking off a couple of weeks to lie on the floor and re-align himself.

Throughout a lengthy county career - he was the youngest panellist as a teenagers on the 2003 Tyrone side that won the county's first All-Ireland - it was a similar story with the treatment table a familiar sight.

He recalled: "I have always tried to come back too early and pushed myself too much at times.

"But with Tyrone, you never really knew where you stood so you were always pushing, even though you might have had no chance. You always felt you had a chance of playing so you pushed through injuries."

In last year's final, Carlin tangled with Matthew Donnelly after 12 minutes and although he did not know it at the time, ruptured his medial ligament. Adrenaline got him through the rest of the game, but ultimately they came up short.

Coalisland have reached this stage by overcoming neighbours Clonoe in a semi-final replay.

Managed by the highly-rated John McKeever and trained by former Derry attacker Conleith Gilligan, they showed their ability to learn on the job by turning the disappointment of letting the first day slip against Clonoe, to being commanding in the replay and winning by seven points.

Captained by former county player Plunkett Kane, they have Tyrone trainer Peter Donnelly in great form, while Padraig Hampsey is tipped by many to be the long-term Tyrone full-back. Up front Cathaoir Quinn is their big threat along with Dermot Thornton.

  • Coalisland v Killyclogher, Tyrone Senior Football Championship Final: Healy Park, Omagh, Sunday, 3.30pm

Belfast Telegraph