Trillick’s eighth Tyrone SFC title was hard-earned as they broke the spirit of a determined, and defensive Errigal Ciaran side at Healy Park yesterday.
This was a more comfortable success than the two points margin would suggest, with Errigal’s Peter Harte netting a stoppage-time penalty.
A defensive masterclass by Tyrone star Rory Brennan inspired the newly crowned champions, while his Red Hand colleague Mattie Donnelly led from the front as he pushed into the inside line of attack in the second half to give his side a cutting edge.
Trillick manager Nigel Seaney heaped praise on Brennan, a rock at the heart of his defence and a creative force throughout.
“He’s’ a super, super player, top class. He’s technically very, very good, very mobile, but he also has the game intelligence to recognise where danger is coming from, and the ability to stifle that danger. And today was one of his finest hours,” he said.
Seaney, who was also in charge when the St Macartan’s won the O’Neill Cup in 2015, finally got back on the winning podium after a couple of seasons of frustration.
“The satisfying thing is that they weren’t satisfied with that 2015 championship, that they were willing to kick on.
Even though we suffered disappointment this last two or three years which knocked that back, it’s pleasing to see that the group didn’t fracture or break up.
“They stayed true to what they were looking at, and all of a sudden, they have started to hit the level of performances now that everyone knows they are capable of.”
Trillick’s early energy saw them fire over scores through Ryan Gray, Lee Brennan and wing back Michael Gallagher, with a superb effort, to go three ahead after as many minutes.
It took some time for Errigal to get their match-ups sorted, and when they did, they settled into a defence-minded approach.
And they struck it lucky in the sixth minute when Joe Maguire’s short kick-out was returned by Daire Gallagher, but the Trillick goalkeeper was dispossessed by teenager Odhran Robinson, who rolled the ball into an empty net.
Errigal failed to build on that unexpected boost, failing to add another first half score as they retreated into their defensive shell.
Trillick struggled to find openings as they probed from deep, but they did manage to tag on scores through James Garrity and Brennan, from a 45 metre free, to go in at the break with a 0-5 to 1-1 lead.
Mattie Donnelly pressed up to full-forward, picking off a couple of scores, while Rory Brennan inspired with a string of perfectly timed and beautifully executed challenges.
Lee Brennan was on song from dead balls, nailing a couple of long range efforts, with corner back Damian Kelly also pushing up to score as the Reds went five clear.
Errigal had gone 40 minutes without a score, and they were still struggling to find a way through until late on, when Harte drilled home a penalty, awarded for a foul on Pauric McAnenly.
L Brennan 0-5 (3f, 1 ’45), M Donnelly 0-2, J Garrity, R Donnelly, R Gray, M Gallagher, D Kelly 0-1 each.
P Harte 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-1f, 0-1 ’45), O Robinson 1-0, Cormac Quinn 0-1.
J Maguire; S O’Donnell, R Kelly, D Kelly; M Gallagher, D Gallagher, R Brennan; R Donnelly, G McCarron; M Donnelly, N Donnelly, R Gray; L Gray, L Brennan, J Garrity.
N Gormley for N Donnelly (58), D McQuaid for M Gallagher (64)
D McAnenly; Ciaran Quinn, A McCrory, Cormac Quinn; S Tierney, N Kelly, P O’Hanlon; B McDonnell, E Kelly, P McAnenly, P Harte, R McRory; O Robinson, Darren Canavan, M Kavanagh.
J Oguz for Robinson (h-t), D McDermott for O’Hanlon (38), Darragh Canavan for Darren Canavan (40), T Canavan for E Kelly (45), S McRory for R McRory (52), T Colhoun for Tierney (57)
Eamonn McHugh (Aghyaran)