Disappointing defeat for Erne Gaels

FERMANAGH SENIOR CO. FINAL

Disappointing defeat for Erne Gaels
Gerry McLaughlin sport@donegaldemocrat.com @dgldemocrat

The greater experience of county champions Derrygonnelly Harps proved too much for a youthful Erne Gaels in a mediocre Fermanagh county final.

Derrygonnelly Harps 0-11

Erne Gaels 1-7

It was the underdogs' first appearance in a final since back in 1981 when they were victorious.

But this result will be a severe learning curve for Maurice and Liam MacLaughlin’s young men.

The Gaels had a great chance of snatching victory when joint captain Ryan Lyons rifled the ball to the Harps net 9 minutes from time.

That put them ahead by 1-7 to 0-8 but they failed to build on that advantage as man of the match Leigh Jones, Paul Ward and Declan Cassidy pushed the Harps to a narrow but deserved victory.

The Gaels needed to make a final push but were pinned in their own half by a physically superior Harps side who scented victory and never relented when it really mattered.

The winners looked the better side in a very poor opening half and were well worth their half time lead of 0-6 to 0-3 against a nervous looking Erne Gaels.

KEY FIGURE

Midfielder Ryan Jones was a key figure for the Harps in this half as the points flowed from Paul Ward, Neil Gallagher and Garvan Jones.

Seamus Ryder and Barry McCann replied for Erne Gaels.

The Gaels narrowed the gap early in the second half through points from McCaffrey and Seamus Ryder narrowed the gap to 0-8 to 0-7.

Exchanges stayed scrappy with loads of frees on both sides as the Gaels struck for goal 9 minutes from time.

But towering Harps captain Ryan Jones walked tall when it really mattered and won loads of possession at midfield for the winners.

Brian Mullin had a much improved second half for the losers who never got to play their normal attacking football.

But it was in those final frenetic moments that the Harps showed their true mettle to come out narrow but ultimately deserved victors.

They will now meet the Derry champions in the Ulster Club series on October 30.

However these sides will be meeting again in the county league semi-final next weekend.

DERRYGONNELLY HARPS: D Feely, D Greene, S Burns, S McGullion; N Gallagher (0-1), M Jones, G McGinley; R Jones (0-1), G Jones (0-1f; L Jones (0-3), C Jones, D Cassidy (0-2): P Ward (0-3), S McGullion, J McGurn. Subs: K Cassidy for J McGurn (47), M Cassidy for S McGullion (49), Lee Jones for N Gallagher, G McKenna for D Cassidy (59)

ERNE GAELS: Stephen Ryder, P O’Shea, D McGullion, G O’Connor; P McCaffrey, D Keown, J McCann, B Mullin, R Lyons (1-0); B McCann (0-1), T McCaffrey (0-1f), R Cox; D Lyons, Seamus Ryder (0-54f), M Lyons

Subs: M Og McGarrigle for B McCann (34),C Keown for P O’Shea (40), L Ryder for R Cox (48), M O’Shea for M Lyons (52), C Smith for P McCaffrey

REFEREE: N Davis (Teemore)