herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Omagh are best placed for a final flourish

Omagh St Enda's v Slaughtneil (Athletic Grounds, Tomorrow, 2.0)

TOWARDS the back end of this week, word emerged from within the Omagh camp that Conor Clarke would - just six months after rupturing a cruciate ligament and all that that frightful affliction entails - be togged tomorrow in Armagh.

Modern medical procedure tells us this development is designed either to put the fear into Slaughtneil or as a symbolic gesture.

Because if he is involved and Omagh win, Clarke will be one of eight players (the others being Ronan O'Neill, Conan Grugan, Barry Tierney, Ciarán McLoughlin, Cormac O'Neill, Stephen Mullan and Ryan Clarke) to set a record of being the first to win provincial club medals at the three major age grade after their Ulster minor and U 21 successes of 2009 and 2011 respectively.

surprise

With all that pedigree it was surprising that anyone was shocked when Omagh beat Crossmaglen Rangers first day out.

Throw in Joe and Justin McMahon and Cathal McCarron and you've got yourself a serious looking team.

For all that, you can't imagine anyone scoring particularly freely against Slaughtneil, a well-oiled defensive machine under the guidance of Mickey Moran.

They kept Clontibret to just seven points in the semi-final and Conor McManus to a single point from play.

Chrissy McKaigue is the most influential component of that rearguard action but it's the collective, rather than any individual part, which makes it as doughy as it very obviously is.

The likes of Patsy Bradley and Paul Bradley (0-6, 3f against Clontibret) in the semi, give them intelligence and vibrancy in possession but it's hard to look past Omagh and their history-makers.

ODDS: Omagh 5/6, Draw 13/2, Slaughtneil 13/10

VERDICT: Omagh

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