Once again it has proved to be a hectic winter schedule throughout November and December, and there were plenty of local sporting events in Omagh and beyond as 2018 drew to a close.
We begin with GAA and with club county championships wrapped up for 2018 all attentions then turn to Ulster Club provincial championships. The Tyrone Intermediate champions Tattyreagh St Patricks continued their remarkable journey by earning a 1 point victory over St Peters of Lurgan (Armagh) at the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, reaching the semi-finals before eventually being defeated by Naomh Eanna Glengormley (Antrim) who went on to become Ulster Intermediate champions.
In the Senior Ulster Club championship, also hosted at the Athletic Grounds, Coalisland Na Fianna’s (Tyrone) Ulster Club ambitions came to an end as they were defeated at the hands of 13 time winners Crossmaglen Rangers in a 0-12 0-10 score line. The 2018 Ulster Club Senior final saw Ghaoth Dobhair (Donegal) who defeated Crossmaglen Rangers in the semi-finals and Scotstown (Monaghan) contesting for the Seamus McFarran cup. In an entertaining match played in poor weather conditions it was Gaelige Donegal side who earned their first ever Ulster Club title in the clubs history defeating Scotstown after extra time at Healy Park in Omagh. A momentous occasion for Mervyn O’Donnell’s team as their inspirational captain Niall O’Friel proudly gave the winning presentation speech in Irish. Best wishes to Naomh Eanna (Glengormley) and Ghaoth Dobhair on their respective All Ireland semi-finals in the New Year.
Moving on to football and in the Fona-cab Irish Junior Cup Tummery Athletic hosted the Kelvin Old Boys at Crawford’s lane in Dromore (Co Tyrone) where late goals from Leo Meenan and Paul McHugh took their team to a miraculous 4-3 over their Belfast opponets, having been trailing 3-2 not long before the final whistle. In the Northern Ireland League cup semi-final Linfield reached the 2019 League cup final with a 1-0 victory over Dungannon Swifts at Stagmore Park thanks to an Andy Waterworth after extra time. David Healy’s side will meet Ballymena United in the decider in the New Year. In the Bluefin Sport Championship fixture at Darragh Park Portadown FC recorded a 2-1 victory over hosts Dergview securing a Top 6 place as the league regularly makes a split in the New Year between top 6 teams and bottom 6 teams.
Finally the newly founded Omagh Cup was officially launched in the month of December in memory of the late Joseph McDermott and the late Dominic Earley consisting of two teams made up of friends of both lads which I had the pleasure of playing for Team Dom. In the game itself Team Dom defeated Team Hoss in a 10-3 score line to become the first team to win the competition set out to raise funds for both families and selected charities.
In other news the Omagh Accies recorded a comfortable 55-17 victory over the visiting Tullamore side at the Thomas Mellon playing fields including 8 well worked tries to continue their maintain their All Ireland Rugby league campaign in Division 2C. In Basketball where despite some glimpses of effort throughout games the Basketball Northern Ireland Premier League is once again proving to be a mammoth task for Ciaran Weber’s Omagh Thunder side that were defeated by the Andersonstown Tigers and the Belfast Stars respectively both at the Station Centre. Finally in the last event of 2018 the annual Lough 5 mile race took place in the village of Loughmacrory where over 1000 participants took place in the prestigious event which was held in mild weather conditions as Mark McKinstry (North Belfast Harriers) finished in 1st place completing the event in an outstanding time of 0:24:38.
Congratulations too to all the teams and individuals who gained success in the winter catch up months! I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and hopefully look forward to another great 2019 of providing local sport ahead.