GAA: Holders Omagh safely through after seeing off Carrickmore

.Omagh's Ronan O'Neill and Crossmaglen's James Morgan in action at Sundays Game.'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye
.Omagh's Ronan O'Neill and Crossmaglen's James Morgan in action at Sundays Game.'�Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Omagh 0-10 Carrickmore 0-3 -

A gale blowing throughout this senior championship opener at Pomeroy on Friday failed to knock county champions Omagh off course as they eased to a comfortable seven point win over a Carrickmore side looking a pale shadow of the side the St Enda’s defeated in last year’s final.

Reduced to thirteen men in the final quarter with Penrose and Loughran red carded Carrickmore had little answer to a vastly improved Omagh who had leaders all over the park with Conor Meyler, Joe McMahon and Jason McAnulla at the top of their game. The St Enda’s now face Dromore in the quarter final

After an early point from Paul McAleer gave Carrickmore the lead Omagh racked up the first of their eleven first half wides, Jason McAnulla, Ronan O’Neill and Conor O’Donnell failing to master the conditions.

Omagh’s first score came twelve minutes in when O’Neill dropped over a free after being manhandled himself and a second point from the Omagh full forward from a close range dead ball gave them a lead they were never to lose.

Carrickmore pressed Omagh at times, tested their defence too but it was proving a thankless task with Mark Donnelly becoming continually isolated as the half wore on with Justin McMahon, Ciaran McLaughlin and an impressive Michael Flannigan dominating. A slip though by McMahon allowed Martin Penrose in for Carmen’s second score twenty one minutes in but that was that for the challengers.

Barry Tierney who once again turned in massive performance was unlucky not to turn an O’Donnell cross into Neill McElduff’s net their pressure was rewarded with 0-2 from McAnulla and a brace from Conor Clarke and O’Neill as Omagh led by four at the break.

Martin Penrose reduced the arrears to three with an opening score six minutes into the second half and to their credit they defended well , Ruari Loughran and Johnny Munroe stalling the Omagh attack, seeing the St Enda’ congregate around the Carmen 45, but crucially holding possession.

A flurry of yellow cards followed. Gallagher, Donnelly and Mullin all going into the notebook as frustration took hold of Carrickmore and they were also punished on the scoreboard as a super tackle from Conan Grugan set up a move that produced an O’Neill point and an O’Donnell pass teed up O’Neill for point number eight.

As the game entered the last quarter, Penrose received his marching orders for a challenge on Aaron Grugan and a McAnulla point was followed by a twenty pass period of possession that eventually put O’Neill away for the final point of the night before Ruari Loughran picked up a straight red in the final moments.

Omagh could have been more clinical in front of goals, they amassed some 15 wides, but they will be happy to have progressed , their overall performance sending a warning to others with an eye on wrestling away the O’Neill cup.

For Carrickmore this was more than just a little disappointing, too many of their star performers failed to step up on a night best forgotten by them.