July was a busy month for local sport, and for me personally also included an exciting trip across the water to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
We start with soccer and I began the first day of July with a trip to the Brandywell where Derry City hosted League of Ireland champions Dundalk in a top of the table clash. It proved to be a day to forget for Kenny Shiels' candy-stripes as Dundalk crushed their title rivals 5-0 thanks to a David McMillan hat trick. The win sees the lilywhites extend their lead at the top of the table and stay on track for their third successive league title. Staying with soccer and with the 2016/2017 Fermanagh and Western season just around the corner, Strathroy Harps and Dunbreen Rovers both hosted pre-season fixtures, playing Dungannon Swifts and Fintona Swifts respectively. Strathroy lost 5-1 on the day, while Dunbreen recorded a comfortable 9-1 win in what was a useful run out for all four teams ahead of the new season. The day also marked the return of Fintona Swifts to the Fermanagh and Western league after folding the previous season. A warm welcome back to them.
During my trip overseas I attended my first ever Formula 1 race at the famous Silverstone circuit which annually hosts the British Grand Prix. The Formula 1 experience provided me with a noisy, action packed two days as I attended the final practice sessions and Qualifiers of the Formula 1, as well as the Porsche Racing, GP3 and GP2 which also took place. The Formula 1 qualifiers and of course the race itself didn’t disappoint, as back to back World Champion, Lewis Hamilton, gained pole position and then went on to dominate the race itself, ultimately recording a third consecutive race win on his home track.
Staying overseas, I headed North East to enjoy a family holiday in Yorkshire. While there I attended the Beverley Races, where I happened to discover local jockey Barry McHugh from Dungannon, who was racing and went on to record a win.
In GAA, the Tyrone Senior football team recorded a comfortable win over Cavan in the Ulster Championship Semi-final, advancing to their first Ulster Provincial final since 2010, where they faced their long term bogey team Donegal at a sun kissed St Tiernachs park in Clones. The final proved to be a very defensive affair with the last ten minutes containing most of the games drama. It also proved the most profitable period of the game for Tyrone, with two fantastic long range points from Peter Harte and Kieran McGeary ensuring that Mickey Harte's men left Clones as Ulster Champions for the 14th
time in their history.
Finally, in women’s football, three exciting fixtures saw Clan Na Gael, St Maccartans and Errigal Ciaran record wins over Omagh St Endas, Carrickmore and Glenelly respectively, to progress to the semi-finals of the Tyrone Ladies Senior football championships. These fixtures are due to be played later in August. 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.