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Title triumph can provide comfort for Donnelly

Mattie Donnelly
Mattie Donnelly
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Tyrone skipper Mattie Donnelly may have endured his share of frustration at inter-county level this year but there could be considerable consolation on the horizon this weekend should Trillick triumph in the County Senior Championship final.

It's at Healy Park, Omagh (4pm) on Sunday that Donnelly's club will meet Errigal Ciaran in a decider which has captivated a football-mad county and which is being staged only a few days after Tyrone learned that they will be renewing their rivalry with old foes Donegal in the quarter-final of the Ulster Championship next year.

The provincial semi-final defeat which Mickey Harte's side suffered at the hands of Donegal back in June was a major setback that was matched only by the All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kerry.

With Harte set to run the rule over the talent at his disposal before rubber-stamping his 2020 panel, there is more than just medals at stake.

Trillick, champions in 2015, may be regarded as favourites but Donnelly will not be swayed by prophecies.

"Errigal Ciaran have a tremendous record in the Championship and they won't be fazed at having to meet us," he insists.

Along with his brother Richie, Lee Brennan, Daire Gallagher, Ryan Gray and Rory Brennan he has a key role in the engine-room of a Trillick side that is noted for its defensive prowess.

And while Errigal Ciaran too are not lacking in individual talent with Peter Harte, Ben McDonnell, Darragh Canavan and Aidan McCrory to the fore, the game may well morph into something of a free-kick shoot-out.

Harte helped himself to seven points in all in the semi-final win over Carrickmore while Lee Brennan gave a master-class in finishing skills in his side's elimination of Coalisland also at the semi-final stage.

The duo look set to engage in what could prove a fascinating duel which could have a crucial bearing on the outcome of the game. With a question mark hovering over key defender Aidan McCrory's involvement and a doubt surrounding forward Ronan McCrory, Errigal Ciaran manager Pascal Canavan potentially faces a selection headache.

Canavan's opposite number Nigel Seaney has overseen Trillick's emergence as a major force but there is no danger that his players will get carried away.

"We are still a work in progress with room for further improvement," maintains Seaney."

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