Strong challengers aiming to capture Roslea's Erne crown
CHANGES to the structure of the Fermanagh Senior Championship mean there are eight teams in pursuit of the New York Cup this season.
In the four quarter-finals to be played across this weekend, it is Devenish and St Patrick's, Donagh who will get proceedings under way on Saturday evening at Derrygonnelly (5.30pm).
Devenish will be favourites to advance against a St Pat's side who sit in the relegation zone in the league. But recent results, which include a heavy defeat at the hands of Derrygonnelly for Devenish and a two-goal win for St Pat's over Belcoo, have narrowed that gap considerably. Devenish have Barry Mulrone and Martin O'Brien from the county set-up to call upon, while St Pat's will look to the experienced Éamon Maguire for inspiration. Both sides have able cast members of the younger variety and this game could be high-scoring, with both sides known for their open play.
Directly following that game, league leaders Erne Gaels will meet Tempo (7pm), who have had an indifferent season to date. The Belleek men are unbeaten in eight games and are, without doubt, the form side in Fermanagh, with a host of attacking talent including the Ryder boys, Luke and Séamus. For Tempo, their strength has been in their defence, where the evergreen Damian Kelly calls the shots. Up front, they will look to Ryan Keenan to get the scores needed if they are to cause an upset here against a Gaels side who have Championship glory earmarked for this season.
On Sunday, as part of a double-header at Brewster Park, Ederney meet Derrygonnelly in what is the tie of the round (1.30pm). Both teams have clear Championship aspirations, although it is the Harps of Derrygonnelly who have been in the better form of late. With five county men to call upon, including the Jones brothers, Ryan and Conal, they are a potent team. With Michael Jones, Tiernán Daly and Éamon McHugh in defence, along with a style that sees them dropping wing-forwards back into defence, they are very hard to break down. If Ederney are to pull off what would be considered a shock, they will need top games from the McCusker brothers, Paul and Declan, as well as a stellar afternoon from former Allstar Marty McGrath, who has been operating at full-forward for the St Joseph's club.
In the last quarter-final (3pm), champions Roslea take on Derrylin in what is a real David v Goliath tie. Derrylin finished fifth in the first stage of Division Two in Fermanagh this season and are playing in the Senior Championship by virtue of their spectacular Intermediate success last year. They have excellent performers in wing half-back Louis Leonard and corner-forward Barry Murray, while former county player Mark Murphy is still as good a fetcher of the ball in the middle of the field as there is in the county.
If Roslea are weaker in one area this year, it is the middle third, where they have lost James Sherry and Kevin Cosgrove. The pair won a mountain of possession for Roslea in previous years and their absence will be felt. Still, Roslea have the magnificent talent of Seán Quigley in their forward line, while his mercurial brother Séamus is an attacker to strike fear into any defence. Add to this the defensive qualities of the eldest of the Quigley clan, Conor, along with county men Niall Cassidy and James McMahon, and it is clear Roslea still have a very formidable look to their team.