Once again local sport has spent the early part of the year battling the weather conditions, but as always there was still plenty of excitement with what did go ahead, as we reached the business end of some sporting campaigns and got going with a few others.
We begin with GAA, where Mickey Harte’s Tyrone Seniors put in a solid performance in the final home game of the season, securing a top 4 finish in the Allianz National Football League with a convincing victory over rivals Kerry. Staying with the county set up, the Tyrone Senior Ladies football team hosted Clare in the Lidl Division 2 fixture, securing a comfortable victory to maintain a mid table position.
Also in the GAA, the 2018 Tyrone All County league returned, with champions Errigal Ciaran holding their ground to secure a hard-earned victory over a battling Donaghmore side. Omagh St Endas battled back in injury time to secure a draw against Edendork, and 5 days later made a swift return to action when two goals from Conor Meyler helped earn a victory over Coalisland in an extremely entertaining game played under the Healy Park floodlights. Elsewhere, an impressive performance from county player Lee Brennan helped earn Trillick a 5-point victory over Ardboe.
Staying in the club football scene, in the 2018 Tyrone Ladies All County leagues, an Orlaith Lagan goal secured a victory for Omagh St Endas over Loughmacrory at Healy Park in the Intermediate league. Finally, in the Hurling Tyrone League cup, Omagh St Endas claimed bragging rights over Killyclogher St Marys when 3 late points from Ciaran Lagan completed a late comeback at St Pats park in Omagh to start the season positively.
Soccer Season Battles the Elements
If we look back to early March, everywhere seemed to be covered in snow, and not many matches went ahead. One game that beat the elements, however, was the Irish Cup quarter final between Glenavon FC and Loughgall, after Glenavon patrons worked tirelessly to prepare the ground. Their hard work paid off as the fixture passed a pitch inspection leaving it the only fixture to survive on that day, however the match didn't go to plan, as Loughall caused an upset by defeating the hosts 2-1 to reach the cup semi-final. They would eventually be beaten by Cliftonville.
In the League of Ireland Derry City returned to the newly renovated Brandywell Stadium with back to back comfortable victories over Bray Wanderers and Bohemians FC, maintaining their unbeaten home record for the new season.
To local football and in the Mulhern Cup Glebe United earned a 2-0 victory over Fintona Swifts at the Ecclesville Centre to secure a quarter final fixture, where they would eventually be defeated by Mountjoy United. In Fermanagh and Western Divison 2, Omagh Hospitals came from behind to defeat Dunbreen Rovers. Enniskillen Rangers astonishingly played their 1st league fixture in 2018 in the month of April, after continuous postponements. The current Irish Junior Cup holders comfortably defeated Killen Rangers to earn 3 points to keep their title ambitions on track.
Elsewhere in local sport: Omagh Academicals earned a solid victory over Bruff FC in the All-Ireland League, earning a relegation/promotion play off, where they were eventually defeated by Belfast Harlequins. In the NI Futsal Cup Omagh Falcons were defeated by the All Blacks Belfast in a 7-3 score line ending their cup campaign. The Omagh District Snooker League Open Championship was won by Paul Loughran, with Ollie McArdle and Andrew Paterson winning the Stevie McTeague Cup and Billy Friel Cup respectively. And people came from far and wide to compete in the Omagh Half Marathon, with Stephen Scullion crossing the finishing line in first place.
Congratulations once again too to all the teams and individuals who gained success throughout March and April. We can look forward to another great month of local sport ahead!