COOKSTOWN’s fitness, created by a punishing training schedule and shaped by two gruelling extra time encounters, will take the Fr. Rocks team to All-Ireland glory, according to one of their stars of the season.
Conor Mullan, a midfield rock alongside Conor O’Hare, puts his team’s successes this year down to a change in attitude within the team following their relegation back to the intermediate ranks of football.
“John (McKeever) has got us in the right frame of mind, fully prepared, physically right up there,” he told the TIMES. “I’ve never trained as hard in my life!
“Our fitness will take us past Finuge. We’ve proven it with all these games going to extra time. We have a unit of 25, 30 men and any one of those guys could step into the team.
“There was a time not that long a go when, if we were three points down, or a team was coming back at us, we would have laid down. But this year has been different. We were five points down against Charlestown at half time but I said to myself ‘We’re not getting beat here’. There has been a big change in mentality.
“We are just one team. Every man works for the other. David Hughes, Boco (James McGahan) - these young guys have come in but they don’t need much talking to because we are just one unit.
“Jason Quinn would’ve been on the fringes of the team for a few years, he was in Australia for a while, too; but I’ve never seen a man train as hard as he has this year. He was one of our main men in the Tyrone championship this year. John Gilmore has been a big player for us in Ulster Championship too.
“We set out at the start of the year with the aim of getting back into senior football. We took it one step at a time, won the league and then we won the championship after a replay. To be honest even after winning Ulster, Croke Park was not really in our minds,” Conor said.
“Warrenpoint gave us a tough battle into extra time and then Charlestown was another tough battle. So we really haven’t looked beyond the game right in front of us.
“We have really shown that we have good strength in depth, a bit of mettle and great character.
“The Tyrone campaign has set us up for this run, no doubt. Tyrone championship is the hardest thing to get out of. Your own county is the hardest part of the whole thing. Once you’ve come out of that you know that you have a pretty good chance of going on to bigger and better things.”