Lively veteran Mark Lyons kicked a truly memorable equaliser with the outside of he boot into the wind and rain to clinch a thoroughly deserved draw for the Belleek men in a thriller against the Harps before a big crowd in Canon Maguire Park.
Derrygonnelly Harps 1-10
Erne Gaels 0-13
A draw was a fitting result for these two Fermanagh heavyweights who will be meeting in the championship in a month’s time.
The reigning county champions looked like they were going to blitz the Gaels as they raced into a 1-5 to 0-0 lead in the first quarter.
Ex-Fermanagh star Paul Ward was finding loads of space and reeled off 1-2 while young Gary McKenna was accurate from frees.
It took the wind assisted Gaels 16 minutes to score with Luke Ryder (a grand nephew of he great Eddie John Gonigle of Corlea and Ardara fame) clipping over a fine point from 47 metres.
But the Harps could only add on one more score by the interval from Paul Ward.
The other Paul Ward and Gareth Derry were on target for the Gaels who also hit six wides as the Harps led by 1-6 to 0-4 at the interval.
But despite the best efforts of the returned Ryan Jones, the Harps could only manage four points in the second half, two of those coming in the final five minutes.
The Gaels switched 18-year-old Michael Og McGarrigle from full-forward to midfield and he reigned supreme.
Suddenly the supply to the Harps inside line was cut off and the Gaels clawed their way back into contention through points from Ryder, Tommy McCaffrey and Ryan Lyons.
Neil Gallagher responded for the Harps in the 37th minute but this was to be their last score in almost 20 minutes.
The Gaels upped the tempo playing into the breeze and the rain to set up a frenetic finish.
Ryan Lyons levelled matters at 1-8 to 0-11 and it looked like a late McKenna free had won it for the Harps before Mark Lyons late equalizer.
But they also hit 13 wides over the hour to their opponent’s tally of eight.
Derrygonnelly Harps scorers: Paul Ward (1-2,1f), Gary McKenna (0-4f), Ryan Jones (0-2), Neil Gallagher (0-1), Leigh Jones (0-1),
Erne Gaels scorers: tommy McCaffrey (0-43f), Luke Ryder (0-2f) Ryan Lyons (0-2), Paul Ward (0-1), Gareth Deery (0-1), Mark Lyons (0-1) Barry McCann (0-1),