Omagh CBS’ hard work will pay off in Hogan Cup Final: Diarmaid McNulty

The yearning hunger within the school to see the coveted MacRory Cup won has cropped up every year for some time, but coach Diarmaid McNulty still remembers the honesty and passion that characterized the team’s first meeting.

“We set up our stand at the beginning of September because we wanted to go very far in the MacRory Cup. The players as a group have made a commitment to be as competitive as possible and the fact that they’ve delivered on that promise is why they face Summerhill College, Sligo in next Friday’s Hogan Cup Final,” stresses McNulty .

Croke Park couldn’t have been further from players’ minds last autumn, but right now it’s at the center of their thinking as they prepare to face a Summerhill side who pulled off a defiant challenge in the All-Ireland semi-finals He defeated St Brendan’s College, Killarney, college football’s longtime aristocrats, in spectacular style.

The unity, energy and dedication of the Omagh team reached new heights in their dominance of the MacRory Cup competition, but Coach McNulty is certain there’s another highlight to come on St. Patrick’s Day at HQ.

“Only the four provincial champions can contend for the Hogan Cup and although we picked up an easy win over Naas CBS (4-15 to 0-7) in the All-Ireland semifinals, we are aware that it will be a different story will be against Summerhill College overall,” admits McNulty. “We know that win against St Brendan’s will have cheered them on and we have to do our best in this game.

“The fact of the matter is that when Ulster meets Connacht it’s about two teams and whilst we’re looking forward to the game we know Summerhill will be very busy.”

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The Omagh side’s zealous work ethic has been a hallmark of their journey into the All-Ireland decider, and McNulty is quick to point out that there’s no magic formula here.

“This was achieved by the players consistently showing up for training and working hard when they got there. One of the great features of this squad is that the players feel very comfortable in each other’s company. Along with the other members of the management team, Ciaran McBride and Pat McNabb, I was very impressed with the attitude of the players and their dedication to training,” said McNulty.

“That carries over to the pitch on matchdays when the players work for each other. It’s very important that they trust each other when they’re out there on the pitch and that only comes from a lot of hard work in training.”

Indeed, the self-sacrifice shown by the players since last September has helped convince McNulty that they are now fully prepared for an onslaught on All-Ireland Colleges glory.

“The boys trained over Halloween, they trained again over the Christmas holidays and they went away for a bonding exercise. In fact, they did everything they were asked to do, so there’s cautious optimism in the camp,” says McNulty.

Skipper Eoin McElholm embodies the team spirit while Barry McMenamin and Callum Daly are the pillars of a defiant rearguard, with Conor Owens, Ruairi McCullagh, Liam Óg Mossey and Caolan Donnelly being other key players.

“The support we’ve had from the Omagh CBS community has been incredible as people volunteer to care for players in every way,” reveals McNulty. “I think people have been impressed with the effort the lads have put in and they have decided to help where ever they can and I can tell you it was very much appreciated.”

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“We’ve had former students and former teachers come up and chat with us and that’s very encouraging. Hopefully the boys will bring a little more sunshine into everyone’s lives this St. Patrick’s Day.”

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