Plotting champs’ downfall
Ronan McGuckin came to Errigal Ciaran with a plan and it’s one that has served him well - but, on Sunday, he faces his biggest challenge yet against a vastly experienced championship side in Dromore.
McGuckin took over an Errigal Ciaran team that was going through a period of transition and to make the challenge more daunting he was taking over from one of the clubs most iconic players.
“Whenever the Errigal committee approached me to take the job I was certainly aware that I wasn’t just following in the footsteps of Peter who isn’t just an idol in this part of the world, he’s an idol in Tyrone and in Ulster.
“That in itself was a challenge for me. Taking on a job like this in a club like Errigal Ciaran was something I had to give serious thought to. When a club like this wants you involved it’s an honour. I took the decision to go for it and I’m glad I did.”
McGuckin began his management career with Derrylaughan last year and prior to that he had enjoyed a glittering club career in Derry with Ballinderry, something he’s thankful for.
“I was lucky enough in Ballinderry to be born at a time when there was a plethora of talented footballers who came through at the same time as myself. My own playing career is something I look back on with pride.
In spite of his tremendous success with his home club, McGuckin admits that four final defeats still haunt him: “My time with Ballinderry saw us win five championship medals, an Ulster club and an All-Ireland. That’s fantastic to look back on, but at the same time I’ve been involved in four losing finals and if anything it’s those memories that tend to stick with you.”
Errigal have been solid, if unspectacular, in the league this year and the Ballinderry man freely admits that the championship was his sides main aim this season. Speaking after the second game of this season as Errigal drew a second consecutive encounter, McGuckin had said his focus for the season was on August and the championship.
“At that stage of the year I was no different to a lot of division one managers in Tyrone, in that the championship was always going to be the focus but to a greater extent my focus was to help the lads be the best that they could be when they got to the business end of the season.
“Now we’re not there yet. Anybody that has watched our games throughout the year would recognise that there have been improvements and there are huge improvements still to make.
“But, regarding the lads themselves, from the last time we spoke at the Donaghmore game until now, I would be full of praise for them.
“They are very dedicated and decent lads that have worked hard and I’m very pleased that they are getting to take part in the showcase game.”
McGuckin is well aware that few of his players will have played on a stage like this before.
“We would have maybe three or four vastly experienced lads in the team and the three that would stand out would be the boys that have All Irelands at county level, Enda McGinley, Davey Harte and John Devine in particular.
“But when you drill down into the detail and you look at the age profile of our team, we’ve a team of inexperienced kids.
“This is all completely new to them. In some cases some of them had only won one championship game in their careers before this year and in some cases, they’d won none.”
McGuckin has the utmost respect for Dromore and recognises that his side will face a massive challenge against the St Dympna’s: “I have always considered Dromore to be one of the top three or four teams in Ulster.
“They’re widely regarded as the best team in Tyrone and probably rightly so. Their record speaks for itself.
“They are at the other end of the scale to us at the minute in that by now they are a seasoned championship teams that know how to win championships and to that end represents and absolutely massive challenge to us.”
Whether McGuckin can realise his early season vision for his side remains to be seen but, if his side are going to win it, they will have done it the hard way beating the most successful club in Tyrone football, Carrickmore and the stand-out club team of the last decade in the county, Dromore, along the way.
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Weather for Dungannon
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: South west
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South west