THE WEIGHT of history won’t stop Dromore going all out to break the ‘champions curse’ when the Tyrone Senior Championship takes centre stage over the coming days, their star midfielder Peter Teague insists.
The doomed title defences endured by a litany of county champions, stretching back to 2004/05 (Carrickmore’s back to back triumphs), has been well-documented at this juncture.
St Dympna’s are the latest talented squad to take on the challenge when they begin their quest for a second O’Neill Cup crown in a row, against Killyclogher at O’Neill’s Healy Park on Friday night.
The draw hasn’t been kind to Ryan McMenamin’s men with most of the big hitters alongside them in the top half but according to Tyrone senior panellist Peter Teague, they will seek to use the recent champions endless tales of woe as an effective motivational tool.
“Alot of other counties around Ulster when you win the Championship you are usually dubbed as the favourites to win the next year but the holders are never in that position in Tyrone. They are usually written off because of that bad record the defending champions have going back seventeen years. In a funny sort of way that might take a bit of pressure off us because history is against you.
“For us that provides added motivation to become the first team in seventeen years to do that. It would be a great achievement for us. A lot of teams haven’t been able to manage it over the years, and very good teams at that, but it’s something we are definitely aspiring to.”
Teague knows that Dromore must hit the groud running in the first round if they are to avoid an early Championship exit as they face one of the county’s form teams.
“The draw is so tough, we haven’t cast a look past Killyclogher in the first round, we just can’t afford to. Killyclogher have got to multiple County Finals over the last seven or so years and managed to win one. We know how difficult it is to get to the final ourselves so we have been fully focused on them.
“Kieran Howe seems to be doing a very good job with them this year. They have been much more consistent and that showed getting to the League Final. Their squad is littered with top quality players across the board.
“You have the three McCann brothers, ‘Sparky’ Bradley, Nathan Donnelly. They are five serious players and then you have younger lads like Michael Rafferty and Gavin Potter coming in who will be full of confidence after their All-Ireland under-20 win. So it’s gong to be a very tough task for us.”
Dromore finished outside the top four spots in Division One this season, but overall given their lengthy casualty list at times, Peter was fairly pleased with how their league programme went.
“We have been missing a lot of personnel all year. I suppose the four county men have been able to feature more often this year which has been a plus, with fewer starred games.
“But with a lot of key men missing – the likes of Ciaran McCoy and Sean McNabb- it has given an opportunity for younger lads to show what they are about. That’s a plus for them to get Senior League games under their belts. Winning the Reserve Championship too will also have brought them on. They worked hard and earned their reward in that competition.”
Teague, who played a starring role in his side’s march to glory last season, including a couple of epic battles with Dungannon and Trillick, felt that the mini-break at the end of a hectic league came at just the right time for them.
“There was nine or ten Friday nights in a row of league football and then another couple of rounds on Sundays. There wasn’t much of a break and a few players picked up knocks and injuries. So I would say most of the clubs have been happy to get this three week period to get their panel back up to full strength and give everyone time to rest up a bit.”
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