Loughmacrory captain looking forward to Championship challenge
It is a big weekend for Loughmacrory GAA as the St. Teresa’s club will begin their 2015 challenge for Tyrone GAA Intermediate football championship honours.
A major test awaits with Kildress Wolftone’s to provide the opposition this Saturday in Greencastle in the opening round of the series. Kildress and Loughmacrory have always had an enticing rivalry and it would seem certain that the big championship test between the sides in the opening weekend of June is set to be another rip-roaring affair.
Loughmacrory captain, Mark McCullagh, is naturally relishing the test and feels that the squad have been putting in a huge effort in preparation for this season.
“We have trained hard since November on our own and collectively from January for this match. We feel we have the players and the management team to do things this year and this starts on Saturday evening. We have a nice blend of youth and experience and it’s great to see the younger players breaking into the team and starting to take on more responsibility.”
The team got the season off to a great start with a tough away league encounter with Urney, winning out in that opening game. League points have proven difficult to come by in the interim but it should be noted that Edendork and Galbally where the opposition in two of those ties and they would arguably stand as the form teams in the division at present. Urney’s surprise defeat of Eskra in the championship last weekend also jumps out in terms of recent results in the division and of course the winner of Loughmacrory and Kildress will go on to meet Urney next in the quarter final of the 2015 series.
“Even though we haven’t had a great to start to the league, we still have a strong belief that we can achieve things this year. Kildress will be coming into the game as favourites after their good start in the league but championship is a a different ball game and anything can happen on the day.”
The rivalry with Kildress has been one which goes back for some time and many of the Loughmacrory team will go into the game having already crossed swords with the Wolfetones on many occasions. The Loughmacrory captain is expecting a stern challenge from Kildress again in this latest head-to-head but hopes are still high within the camp that a quarter final place could be negotiated on Saturday.
“We have had many a battle with Kildress down through the years. There is a healthy rivalry there and we know what to expect from them on Saturday. They are a bit like ourselves in that they have evolved a lot over the last few years with a good mix of new blood and still have those experienced players who know what it’s all about. They have made a super start to the league and will provide stiff opposition but we believe that if we play to our potential and have a few of the lucky breaks go our way that we can get over the line.”
Division two league football and the Intermediate championship are notorious for throwing up surprises and so many times in the past have we seen teams emerge with shock triumphs in either competition. Indeed just twelve months ago Trillick went through the league unbeaten until the final two rounds and in the space of a fortnight a draw with bottom placed Brackaville effectively cost them the league and they went on to lose the championship final to Dungannon. However Trillick still won through the promotion route to Division 1. Loughamcrory themselves showed solid form in the latter stages of the league and a great winning run as well as draws against 2014 championship winners, Dungannon, and promotion winners, Trillick, stand out and certainly show what the St. Teresa’s are capable of achieving.
“This division is extremely competitive. There are no easy games and last weekend’s results prove this. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. I was very surprised at Pomeroy being beaten as I thought they would have been in with a good shout of going all the way. Having already played Galbally this year, I know how strong they are but was still surprised at the result as Kileeshil certainly aren’t as bad as that result would imply. Teams will be well aware of the challenges ahead if they are going to be challenging for honours in either the league or the championship this year in division 2.”
Loughmacrory GAA has made most impressive strides in recent times both on and off the field. In addition to a number of underage successes, the club of course have seen terrific progress in terms of infrastructure and facilities in the community. All would portray a big future for the club and this can be seen un no uncertain terms with the considerable numbers of youth constantly attending training and coaching sessions in recent months. Mark is leading the charge on Saturday in Greencastle but is also very much involved in that progress at youth level too with his role in local school, St. Teresa’s Primary.
“The facilities that we have available to us at the minute are unbelievable. A huge amount of work has went in behind the scenes and the results have been staggering. As players, we are treated extremely well and owe a lot to the management team and the committee. I have lived in Loughmacrory all my life but the buzz in the community at the minute is unbelievable and all of this is centred on the GAA club and the wonderful facilities that are available to us all. As a teacher in the local primary school I have a huge interest in the development of our future generations. We have a great link between the school and the club which I feel is of huge importance. A massive effort is going in to make sure these young boys and girls are given every opportunity to develop their skills and talents. We want them to compete at the highest possible level and hopefully we as a club will reap the rewards in the future.”
Of course a large Loughmacrory fan base can be expected in Greencastle this Saturday 6th June from 4.30pm – so get your Black and Amber at the ready…
Best wishes to Mark and all the squad in the championship in 2015!