THERE is a big weekend of Ulster club championship action ahead for Tyrone clubs as Errigal Ciaran, Cookstown and Brackaville try and win places in their respective Ulster finals.
Errigal face the stiffest of tasks as they face a Crossmaglen team aiming for their third straight Ulster title.
Cross however have historically struggled against the Dunmoyle based side and will be up against a team buoyed by an impressive victory against Ballinderry last time out.
Cookstown will be fancied against to beat Doohamlet, but the Monaghan champions who beat Derrylaughan on their way to the 2010 Ulster final can not be written off.
Both sides were convincing winners in their respective quarter finals so the confidence in both camps will be high.
Brackaville are into unchartered territory for this group of players as they go head to head with Cavan champions, Laragh United.
Cavan has traditionally produced strong sides at the Junior and Intermediate grade and Laragh enjoyed a comfortable win over Derry side Drum in the first round.
One man who enjoyed success in the Ulster club championship last year was Paul Hughes, a member of the Derrytresk management team.
He sees a tricky weekend ahead for the Tyrone sides, especially Ronan McGuckin’s Errigal Ciaran: “Errigal have definitely got the short straw.
“Cross were very convincing against St Eunans but Errigal seem to be playing a very smart system and they’re very hard to score against.
“I’ve watched Cross a couple of times this year just in games I was interested in seeing and they really come at you early. They pull people all over the place and seem to come at you down the middle.
“It’ll be a test. Errigal will certainly want to weather the early storm. Errigal can’t be content to say we’re stopping Crossmaglen.”
Hughes was optimistic about the chances for Cookstown although he thought they should guard against over confidence: “Cookstown have a very strong group of players, an exceptional group of players.
“They could practivally field a team with county experience behind every one of them. Again it’s going to come down to appetite, that was a big win for them against Kileavy.
“Cookstown need to be careful they don’t sell themselves short and think this is ours to win. They have to go out and really push themselves. A lot of these players have the experience of winning the All Ireland a few years ago but they can’t use that as a safety net.
Hughes was also optimistic for the prospects of Brackaville in the Junior championship: “Brackaville have had a tremendous season, just one defeat all year. Both Monaghan and Cavan along with Tyrone seem to be the counties that do well in the Ulster Junior and those two counties are still there.
“That first game back in Omagh after winning their title with the home crowd really should have given Brackaville a buzz.
Hughes expects the Cavan champions to put it up to Cavan physically: “Laragh will really put it up to them early on and Brackaville will really need to work hard. The physicality of Cavan and Monaghan teams is something else.
“We didn’t experience anything like that until we met Cremartin in the Ulster club final last year and we were kicked about like a ball through it that day.”
Derrytresk man Hughes noted that hard work was needed for all three sides if they were to generate the necessary momentum to win their respective contests: “Ulster club football is played in November time and any advantage you have in the summer with pace and firm pitches is gone.
“Even the cold air takes the pace out of the ball. Teams have to work that bit harder to generate their intensity in the game.”
All three games are due to be played on Sunday with match details expected to be announced at some time on Monday.