Sport

Derrygonnelly Harps hoping to fend off Erne Gaels charge for Fermanagh SFC title

Ryan Jones (centre) has been a driving force in the emergence of Derrygonnelly Harps. Picture by Donnie Phair
Colm Bradley

Defending champions Derrygonnelly Harps meet Erne Gaels in the Fermanagh Senior Football Championship final tomorrow.

The Harps did the double last season lifting their third New York Cup in 12 seasons while Erne Gaels go in search of their first title in 35 years.

The game promises to be a real cracker and while Derrygonnelly are justifiably favourites, Erne Gaels have been clinical in their dispatch of both Irvinestown and Roslea on their way to the final.

Derrygonnelly were equally impressive in beating Ederney and Devenish and there is no doubt that the best two teams in the county are going head-to-head.

The Harps have a range of county talent, both past and present, within their ranks with brothers Ryan and Conal Jones driving forces for the champions.

A third brother, Garvan, has also been playing very well around the middle and this area will be key tomorrow.

Erne Gaels have Ryan Lyons and Brian Mullin manning the midfield berth and both have been in excellent form to date. Lyons has been popping up with crucial scores, while

Mullin is an experienced operator who gets back to help his defence in a quiet but effective manner.

As a collective unit Erne Gaels will no doubt have prepared for the hard direct style of running deployed by the Harps and also their ability to rack up big scores in short periods of time.

Against both Ederney and Devenish the champions hit scoring bursts to devastate the opposition and they have proved very difficult to reel in when protecting a lead.

Derrygonnelly are an experienced outfit and with Michael Jones and Stephen Burns marshalling a tightly focused defensive unit they are not a team known for coughing up big scores.

Erne Gaels, however, possess a very dangerous forward line and in Seamus Ryder and Tommy McCaffrey have a dual inside threat that will keep any defence on their toes.

Ryder combines size, ball-winning ability and a deft touch with an astute football brain, while McCaffrey’s sheer speed and eye for a score are huge assets to his team.

Derrygonnelly have coped well with the loss of county defenders Tiarnan Daly and Eamon McHugh but Erne Gaels will be hoping their twin inside threat can cause problems tomorrow.

At the other end, Derrygonnelly have seasoned performers in the shape of Paul Ward and Johnny McGurn, both of whom are well able to take a score, while Ward has proven time and again that he can be a match-winner on this stage.

Erne Gaels will be looking to Daniel McGullion at full-back and Gary O’Connor in the corner to keep the major scores out, while Jack McCann at wing half-back is also a real threat going forward. 

Opinion is split within the Erne county as to who will come out on top with a slim majority possibly backing the extra experience of Derrygonelly to see them through.

Whatever happens this one should go right down to the wire.

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