GAA Football

Full-back Tiarnan Daly unlikely to be fit for Derrygonnelly Ulster semi-final clash with Cavan Gaels

Tiarnan Daly looks certain to miss Derrygonnelly's Ulster semi-final meeting with Cavan Gaels
Andy Watters

DERRYGONNELLY full-back Tiarnan Daly looks set to miss out as the Fermanagh champions travel to Clones to take on Cavan Gaels.

Daly hobbled off Brewster Park after he suffered a hamstring injury early in the Harps’ quarter-final victory over Armagh Harps and manager Martin Greene rates the inter-county star as “very doubtful” for the Sunday showdown.

“Tiarnan would be very doubtful at the minute,” Greene admitted.

“He got a bad knock against Armagh Harps and was stretchered off but we like to think that we have defenders there ready to step up if Tiarnan doesn’t make it. If he doesn’t make it we’re confident that other members of the squad can step up.”

Derrygonnelly had never won a game in the Ulster championship before their deserved three-point success over Armagh Harps. The following day Cavan Gaels ended a nine-year losing streak for the Breffni county’s best when they were convincing winners against Antrim’s Lamh Dhearg.

Neither clubs would have thought any further than winning a match in this competition before those victories, but the picture has changed quickly. Now, with a win under their belts and a spring in their step, both clubs will see a place in the provincial decider as within their reach.

Greene was in the stands at Breffni Park to watch Cavan Gaels coast home in their quarter-final, so he knows his side will have to be at their best to come through on Sunday.

“They’ll be extremely tough,” he said.

“Like ourselves, they would have been happy to get that first win but now they’ll have their eyes on the top prize. They played against Lamh Dhearg, they were on top all over the different sectors of the pitch and they probably had the game sewn up after 15 or 20 minutes.

“I was down at that game, Breffni Park’s not too far away from us so I was very impressed with their pace all over the pitch – defence, midfield and up front with Martin Dunne, Seanie Johnston and Michael Lyng… They’re strong overall, they’re not just a one man outfit.

“We like to think we have a wee bit of experience in our own county but now we have to step up into Ulster. Cavan Gaels won by an average of 10 points in their county championship so they’re going to be confident going into the game and, like us, they’re going to be motivated by getting to an Ulster final.”

Derrygonnelly’s quarter-final win was built on tenacious defending, quick and accurate kick passing and superb finishing. Defender Mickey Jones, midfield pair Ryan and Garvan Jones and their brother Conal in attack were all outstanding, but it was the attitude and commitment displayed by the entire team that proved too much for Armagh Harps on the night.

“We were delighted to get the win but, at the end of the day, there’s an opportunity for this group of players to do something,” said Greene.

“We know we have a big obstacle in front of us in Cavan Gaels and we knuckled down straight away after the quarter-final. We’ve had a couple of good sessions that will hopefully brought us round and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

“The first round was a stepping stone but we’re realistic that we’re underdogs against Cavan Gaels. We have experience in the team, there are guys that have played inter-county and others that have been in minor and U21 set-ups. It’s good to get the exposure at this level and obviously we want to push on.”

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