The celebrations at the final whistle in Healy Park yesterday afternoon demonstrated just what winning the O’Neill Cup meant to Omagh, as they bridged a twenty six year gap to lift the most prized possession in Tyrone club football.
Ronan O’Neill proved to be the Omagh match winner with the only goal of the game in the final minute of normal time as for the third time in this year’s championship they came with a late surge to gain victory.
It was heartbreak for a Carrickmore side who were forced to play the last quarter of an hour with only fourteen men after Jonathan Munroe was sent off for a second yellow card offence.
As is custom with the St.Colmcilles, though, they dug deep and when County attacker Martin Penrose fired over a superb point from the left wing it looked like being the winner.
O’Neill, however, had other ideas as Omagh struck when it counted most to condemn Carrickmore to a fourth final defeat since 2005.
Played in glorious conditions in front of a bumper crowd of over eight and a half thousand this was a keenly contested game from start to finish and as was the case in their semi-final win over Dromore the St.Endas got that crucial goal right at the death.
It was Carrickmore who led 0-8 to 0-6 at the short whistle, despite playing against the breeze in that first half.
Both sides missed chances early on before Jason McAnulla opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a superb point after taking a pass from Ronan O’Neill.
In the next attack, the sides were level when Paul McAleer did well to hoist the ball high over the bar.
The impressive Barry Tierney then surged forward from centre half back to edge the St.Endas back in front before Martin Penrose levelled matters from a placed ball.
Omagh were looking the livelier side in the opening quarter and two converted frees from the boot of midfielder Conan Grugan put them 0-4
to 0-2 in front.
Carrickmore dug deep, with Mickey Donaghy knocking over a tricky free from the left wing before his half back partner Ruairi Loughran landed a peach from play
Ronan O’Neill then turned his marker sharply to split the posts with his weaker left foot but with Conor Gormley starting to make his presence felt in the midfield engine room the St.Colmcilles once again drew level with the Tyrone defender the man on target.
O’Neill quickly hit a superb effort from distance but in the next attack Penrose struck with a well taken point that went over via the post.
In the twenty nine minute Carrickmore got their noses in front for the first time when he fisted a point and moments later he could have scored a goal when he got on the end of a Penrose pass but his palmed effort came back off the post and rolled along the line before being cleared.
The St.Colmcilles were finishing the half strongly and half back Loughran weighed in with another quality score from distance with what proved to be the last kick of the first half.
The second half was only forty five seconds old when Omagh keeper Ryan Clarke came to his side’s rescue with a superb save to deny
O’Neill and McAleer exchanged points from frees before the former left the minimum between the sides.
Munroe was then sent off after an incident with Conor Meyler and, moments later, the sides were level when Joe McMahon landed a monster free with the outside of his boot.
Man of the match Barry Tierney then burst through on a forty metre run to hit an inspirational point and with nine minutes left on the clock Omagh led 0-10 to 0-9.
Carrickmore weren’t going to accept defeat and two brilliant points from his trusty left foot saw the lead change hands again with time running out.
In the next attack the decisive score arrived when substitute Cathal McCarron sent in a long delivery which found O’Neill and he was calmness personified as he rounded Plunkett McCallan to finish to the net. Carrickmore attacked again but, while Penrose blasted over a late free, that proved to be the last kick of the game and the O’Neill was destined to stay in the trophy room of the St.Enda’s club.