Confidence key as Jones helps Enniskillen Gaels end wait for Fermanagh glory
WHEN the ball left the boot of Enniskillen Gaels’ centre forward Callum Jones after five minutes of Sunday's Fermanagh Championship Final to split the posts, you could see the confidence oozing from the player and the team.
Jones, never lacking in belief at the best of times, put in a hugely impressive performance which yielded two further points, one from play and another from a free as Enniskillen ended 16 years in the wilderness to lift the New York Cup.
It was a performance built on hard work and Jones certainly did not shirk the task. And it was in contrast to his and Enniskillen’s fortunes in last year’s decider.
Rewind 12 months and Enniskillen were outmuscled and outplayed by Derrygonnelly. The game plan did not work, but this year it certainly did.
Looking back at his performances in both games, Jones knew if he played to his strengths, he would have a big say on the game.
“Last year I was given a role. This year I was given a role but I knew if had more confidence in myself and I worked on my own game they would have to mark me.
“So I’m happy enough [with my performance] but all that matters is we won.”
The 10-point victory did not flatter Enniskillen, who clearly learned the lessons of that 2021 final.
“We knew last year we started well the first 15 minutes and we kind of died off and we just knew that couldn't happen this year.
“Derrygonnelly absolutely blew us out of the water in the second half last year we didn’t even come close.
"And to be fair the boys have worked hard from the game last year. After three or four weeks we were back out in the gym and working on our fitness and I think it just showed we were far fitter.
“Last year we were well off the pace after 15 or 20 minutes you know so I think it is all down to fitness.”
That fitness could be shown in Jones’ performance in the half-forward line alongside Neil McDermott and Conor McShea. Between them, they accounted for 1-4 of the Enniskillen total but some of their work off the ball was just as impressive.
Jones himself was involved throughout including in Conor Love’s second goal which put the game well and truly to bed.
And Jones was full of praise for the Enniskillen players: “I just thought the boys were absolutely brilliant. We dominated from the start to finish. I think the pain from last year just drove us on.”
Going into Sunday’s game against Erne Gaels, few would have expected there to be such a gulf between the teams.
Over the last couple of years, when the sides have met, it has been more of a shootout and end-to-end football.
But Enniskillen ground Erne Gaels into submission and any sign of a possible comeback was quickly snuffed out.
“We knew ourselves we have played them over the years and as [Belleek manager] Seamy Ryder said it has been 100mph.
“And we knew we had to suck a bit of life out of them and we knew we had to keep the ball and if we got them early scores we knew we could because in the league games it has been hell for leather.”
The victory sends Enniskillen into Ulster where they face Gowna of Cavan on November 12.
Jones is part of an up-and-coming side who have competed and triumphed in Ulster before and they are a confident bunch.
“We know Ulster is another step up but we will fancy ourselves against most of those teams if we come with the right attitude and work hard.”
And will we see another period of Enniskillen dominance in Fermanagh football?
“Hopefully,” says Jones with a smile.
“We know ourselves five or six teams are knocking at the door in senior so it’s one step at a time.”