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GAA Football

Derrygonnelly must reboot and get ready for replay insists captain Ryan Jones

Derrygonnelly's Mickey Jones shackles Cavan Gaels dangerman Seanie Johnston during Sunday's drawn Ulster Club SFC semi-final in Clones. Picture by Philip Walsh
Neil Loughran

THEY had plenty of chances to book their place in a first-ever Ulster Club SFC final, but Derrygonnelly must put Sunday behind them and get ready to go again this weekend according to captain Ryan Jones.

It is 15 years since a Fermanagh club last reached the decider, Erne Gaels falling to Errigal Ciaran in 2002, and none have come as close to reaching that stage since as the Harps at the weekend.

Fourteen man Cavan Gaels failed to score from the 40th minute of normal time until eight minutes into extra-time, and were hanging on by their fingernails after losing Levi Murphy to a red card 45 minutes in.

But while the three in-a-row Fermanagh champions managed to claw back a four point deficit, they couldn’t hammer home the killer blow.

And Jones admitted Derrygonnelly were disappointed not to have got the job done.

“Yeah of course,” he said. “We'd have preferred to win the game but we're still in it, and it's all to play for the next day.

“It is 50-50- again. We missed opportunities there at the very end but that’s the way it goes. There will be some boys disappointed they didn't take the chance, but it's the same for Cavan Gaels.

“It's all to play for the next day.”

The normally reliable Paul Ward passed up several opportunities from placed balls, including a free in the dying minutes of extra-time that would surely have sealed the deal with legs tiring all around.

Ward has been Derrygonnelly’s star performer plenty of times in the past, and Jones insists he carries no more responsibility than anybody else for their failure to get across the line.

He added: “It’s a team game and we don't put the blame on any man.

“They were difficult frees as well and there were tired legs at that time too.”

Slaughtneil looked mighty impressive in seeing off Kilcar on Saturday night, their assured performance in stark contrast to the nerves on show from both sides in Clones the following day.

The Derry men will take some beating on November 26, no matter who comes out of this weekend’s replay, but Jones says the Emmet’s have not even come into his thoughts.

“We're not focusing on anything to do with Slaughtneil.

“Of course it's a great opportunity for both teams. We are 60 minutes away from a final but there are a few things we can work on.

“We will analyse the game and get back down to work on Monday or Tuesday.”

Continuing, the Fermanagh midfielder said: “We feel we are good enough to be at this level.

“We've been knocking on the door this past few years and won three Fermanagh championships in-a-row, but we haven't completed the job so there's no point talking about anything until we actually get through.”

Cavan Gaels were hit by the loss of skipper Michael Lyng ahead of Sunday’s semi-final clash, and it remains to be seen whether the veteran schemer will be back in time for this weekend.

Derrygonnelly, meanwhile, were without full-back Tiarnan Daly – who picked up a hamstring injury in their quarter-final win over Armagh Harps – and he remains touch and go for the replay.

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