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National League clubs needed for SuperCup breakthrough says Junior boss

Thursday, 3 August 2017

THE Tyrone Junior manager says clubs from Tyrone, especially Omagh, need to be playing at National League standard for the county to make the breakthrough at the NISuperCup.

Martin Gallagher's U15s reached the semi-final of the secondary 'Globe' competition after two wins and a loss in the group section, and narrowly lost out 1-0 to Mexican outfit, Chivas Guadalajara, at Anderson Park, Coleraine. Chivas went on to hammer Manchester United 4-0 in the Globe decider, and Gallagher believes there are only fine margins between Tyrone and the top sides.

"We have to get more players playing at a higher standard in Tyrone," said Gallagher. "That's what we're looking for now in the next year or so. Next year we shouldn't be far away.

"We need to get more National League football, especially around the Omagh area. Sion Swifts and Dungannon make up most of the team as they are playing National League football. There were no players at all from Omagh."

Gallagher was extremely heartened though by his side's performance in the tournament, and is adamant that the talent is there in the county to push on and taste success in the future.

"We did better than we expected. You can see that the players are in the county, it's just a matter of getting them into that higher standard. Mountjoy are building a brilliant club in Omagh, they've 250 children there now. They just need National League football now to develop that onto another stage.

"Antrim can pick from seven or eight National League sides, and they won the junior section. We are picking from two. To be playing football all year round is what's needed for Tyrone to push for the SuperCup."

Despire valiantly falling to a 2-0 defeat to Plymouth Argyle at Scroggy Road, Limavady, on Monday afternoon, Gallagher's young side picked themselves up on Tuesday with a brilliant 5-0 win over MS Select from New Zealand at Castlerock.

Marito Marcal grabbed a spectacular hat-trick, and he headed the young Hands into an early lead, while Conor Williamson and Oran McGrath got the other two goals. Marcal completed his hat-trick in fine fashion with a terrific strike from 25-yards

Tyrone's opponents on Wednesday hailed from a lot closer to home, neighbours Derry at Anderson Park on Wednesday.

The game was played out in true derby style, with plenty of hot and heavy tackles flying in as Tyrone edged a 1-0 win. The winning goal came in the 14th minute, as the fast feet of Ben Gallagher afforded him the space to fire in a shot from range which was spilled into the net by goalkeeper Ben Ryan.

The Red Hand County were reduced to ten men in the 40th minute, as Conor Williamson saw red after an unsavoury altercation. From then on tempers began to fray, heavy challenges coming in as side lines became very animated. In injury time Tyrone's Lee McCullagh slammed the post with an inspired effort from thirty five yards.

Just one point denied he U15s from a top four spot in the junior section, and so they were entered into the Globe competition to play Chivas.

"They only scored with eight minutes to go to beat us, and we dominated them in the first half," said Gallagher. "It was our best performance of the week. We fought and battled hard and were unlucky to lose. Chivas would be one of the top sides in Mexico so, in that respect we've done very well."

All that was left was a 5-0 play-off defeat to Armagh, but by that stage, the fizz had gone out of the competition. "Up to the fourth day, our boys were looking to play every minute of every game, and the Armagh game didn't really matter. The first four days were absolutely brilliant."

Gallagher is looking to the future with plenty of hope: "I'm there for another two years, and I'm looking forward to it. I'll be out scouting around the clubs for the next six months to try and get the best players in.

"I think we are stronger at 2003's than at 2002's. We have a lot of young boys who played for Club NI this year, so the future is bright. Top four next year is the target. What we learned this week is that we are not far off."

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