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Loughran's Moy joy after battling his career-threatening injury

 

By John Campbell

It's doubtful if any player currently involved in the Ulster club championships is relishing the progress his side is making more than Tyrone ace Harry Loughran.

He may have still to move into the household name bracket with his county, but the Moy Tir na nOg centre-half-forward is living the dream right now - and all because he is actually fit to line out with the side.

It was while still in his teens that the tall, lean Loughran sustained a stress fracture injury to his lower back, a setback that was to keep him out of the game for almost four years just at a time when he appeared set to make a real impact.

But today the personable 23-year-old, a teacher at St Jarlath's PS, Blackwatertown, is on the crest of a wave as he focuses strongly on what would be a second championship medal within a matter of weeks.

It was earlier this year that Loughran returned to the Moy and Tyrone squads, his lengthy rehabilitation having been completed and his appetite for action nothing short of ravenous.

If he thought that Tyrone's capture of the Dr McKenna Cup for a sixth successive year and their feat in claiming back-to-back Ulster titles was to form his ration of triumph for the season, then the best was still to come.

It was when Moy soared to the county intermediate championship title last month, their first accolade in 35 years, that Loughran became convinced he had entered a new sporting world.

"It was just unbelievable but since then we have beaten Carrickmacross and Newbridge in the championship and now we're in the final against Rostrevor," states Loughran. "I can hardly take it all in because I was 18 when I suffered my back injury and I thought my career was over to tell you the truth. I kept saying to myself that I might recover - indeed, I was trying to convince myself that I would. In time I improved and thank God I am back to full fitness.

"I am just so relieved and so happy to be playing with this Moy side because for most players their careers can be short enough and I just want to try and make the most of whatever length of time I am granted to be part of the side."

Loughran was brought into the Tyrone side by manager Mickey Harte earlier in the year and, while his sights are very much on provincial glory with Moy at the moment, he has been retained in the Red Hands panel for 2018.

And it can be taken for certain that Harte has already been acquainted with the two-goal blast which Loughran fired to inspire Moy to their emphatic 2-15 to 1-9 victory over Paddy Bradley's shattered Newbridge side at the Athletic Grounds - and this after the Tyrone title-holders had trailed by 0-7 to 0-4 at the break having earlier been 0-6 to 0-1 in arrears.

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