Derrygonnelly Harps to begin defence of Fermanagh title
THE Fermanagh senior championship gets underway this weekend, with defending champions Derrygonnelly Harps the team to beat.
They get their defence of the New York Cup started on Sunday afternoon at 3pm as part of a second double-header at Brewster Park. They face Ederney, who they defeated after a replay at the same stage last year. Derrygonnelly have a squad laced with county talent both past and present, with the Jones brothers, Ryan and Conal, strong competitors around the middle and Michael Jones and Eamon McHugh diligent and tight-marking defenders. Paul Ward still provides the sharpest edge in attack and they will be a difficult side to beat.
Ederney will look to Marty McGrath and the McCusker brothers, Paul and Declan, for inspiration, while defender Finbar Gillen has proved to be more than capable in his play this year. Derrygonnelly will be expected to go through to the next round, but they will know they will have to be at their best.
The curtain-raiser on Sunday will see former champions Roslea Shamrocks take on second division St Patrick’s at 1.30pm. Roslea, fired by the scoring power of the Quigley brothers Seamus and Sean, finished top of the first division and will be warm favourites to progress to the semi final. Managed by former Tyrone ace Brian Gormley, Roslea have a very experienced side, but they will have to be wary of a young St Pat’s team that still has the evergreen Eamon Maguire and county man Pat Cadden as potent forwards.
On Saturday night, the action begins at Derrygonnelly with a 5.30pm throw-in, with Erne Gaels meeting last year’s intermediate champions Irvinestown, who also won the Division Two title in what was a memorable year. With former Ulster player Shane Goan player-manager with Irvinestown, the side comfortably survived in Division One this season and, in James Duffy and Ronan Ormsby, they have forwards of the most dangerous kind.
Erne Gaels, however, have been one of the form sides in the county for the past two seasons and they will be looking to make their championship breakthrough this season. A steady, consistent team, they have Ryan Lyons, Seamus Ryder and Tommy McCaffrey as top-class operators.
In the second game on Saturday night, Devenish meet Teemore in what should be a very tight affair, with a start time down for 7pm. The Garrison men have struggled for consistency this season, although there is no doubt their squad contains plenty of talent, not least Barry Mulroney and Marty O’Brien, who have both been central to Fermanagh’s endeavours over recent years.
They also have attacking thrust in the shape of Chris O’Brien and the diminutive Martin Doherty. They face a Teemore side who have a nice blend of youth and experience. Barry Owens patrols midfield alongside the prodigious Eoin McManus, with Hugh Brady a dependable custodian of the full-back line.
Elsewhere, Cian McManus at half-back and Ruairi Maguire in attack continue to catch the eye and this encounter should go right down to the wire.