As March came upon us again it marked one year since I started writing this local sport blog for Way out West, and just like all the months before, the last few weeks provided a great variety of sports both locally and beyond.
We begin with GAA and Tyrone U21s hosted Donegal in the Eir Grid U21 football championship. Spectators at Healy Park were treated to a thrilling display of Gaelic football from both teams, after which not even extra time had manged to separate them. Donegal eventually went on to win the replay a week later in Ballybofey to reach the semi-finals.
Tyrone senior footballers hosted Mayo in the Allianz NFL Division 1 where Stephen Rocford’s side snatched the game thanks to a late point from Kevin McLoughlin. Staying with GAA, I finally got to attend the traditional All Ireland Senior Club Hurling and Gaelic Football finals at Croke Park where history was made in both games. The fantastic Cuala team (Dublin) completed their sensational campaign by becoming the first Dublin club to win the Tommy Moore cup, defeating a spirited Ballyvea team (Clare). Moving on to the football and after the disappointment of losing in 2015, Slaughtneil Robert Emmets (Derry) returned to the final against a fancied Dr Crokes side (Kerry) which included star forward Colm Cooper. Dr Crokes went on to achieve their first All-Ireland success since 1992 with a two point victory over Mickey Moran’s side which saw Colm Cooper finally lift the All Ireland Club title, meaning he has officially won everything there is to win in the game.
Moving on to football, we begin with the Fermanagh and Western where neighbouring clubs and parish rivals Irvinestown Wanderers and Tummery Athletic went head to head in Crawfords lane in the Mulhern Cup fixture. The Wanderers advanced through to the next round after coming back from 1-0 down thanks to goals from Dwayne Carlton and Joey Millar, which sealed a 2-1 win and claimed the local bragging rights. In the Division 1 Strule United and NFC Kesh who are both aiming to avoid relegation finished honours even at Donnelly’s Holm with goals coming from Luke McGinn (Strule) and Jamie Middlemas (Kesh).
Moving to Irish league and an injury hit Ballinamallard United team made the Monday evening trip to the Seaview in Belfast against the current champions Crusaders which was televised on Sky Sports. Ballinamallard took the lead through Shane McGinty, but Crusaders showed their class in the 2nd half, with two wonder goals from Paul Heatley earning Stephen Baxter’s 3 points and keeping them on track for their 3rd consecutive title.
In other sports Omagh Academicals RFC hosted Carrick RFC at the Thomas Mellon playing fields where a win guaranteed them their first Kukri Qualifying League 1 title since 1997. Thanks to tries from Scott Barr, Ali Beckett and James Catterson the fantastic Omagh Academicals team achieved their long awaited league success along with their seconds’ team who also achieved league success. A great season for all involved in the Omagh Accies.
Finally in Basketball Aidan Bradley’s Omagh Thunder recorded 79-72 victory over the Andersontown Tigers in their last home game of the season which secured home court advantage for the Basketball Northern Ireland league play offs.
Congratulations once again too to all the teams and individuals who gained success in the last month! We can look forward to another great month of local sport ahead.