Roslea aiming to tame Ulster
Published 31/10/2013 | 09:30
Roslea captain James Sherry had already logged up thousands of miles before the good times started to roll with his club.
The Dublin-based physiotherapist has now spent over a decade commuting between his home in the capital and the border village to pursue a footballing career that at one point threatened to leave him empty-handed.
But three county championship titles in the last four years have cemented a Roslea renaissance that is the stuff of dreams in this football-mad outpost.
And now, at a stage when he thought he might be bringing the curtain down on his relentless travelling, Sherry is preparing to lead his home club into the Ulster Championship for what he describes as "a real assault on the title."
Their involvement in the Ulster series up until now has yielded only heartbreak but Sherry, his team cushioned by experience and buttressed by new-found ambition, believes that they can make a significant impact in the flagship competition this time round.
A Fermanagh Championship campaign that brought wins over Newtownbutler, Ederney and Belcoo has helped to fashion the belief that Roslea have now acquired the confidence, poise and craft to rub shoulders with the province's elite sides.
Perhaps surprise packet Ballinagh – the Cavan champions – with whom Roslea will lock horns on Sunday, do not quite come into that category but Sherry recognises that any side which has lowered the colours of red-hot favourites Cavan Gaels in the Breffni decider is deserving of the utmost respect.
"When this particular Roslea side won its first county title a few years ago we felt then that we had reached the promised land but now that another couple of titles have come along we have raised the bar," states Sherry.
"We want to show that we can live with the best sides in Ulster. That's the challenge for us and we feel we are up for it.
"Ballinagh have certainly made everyone sit up and take notice by the manner in which they won the Cavan title and they will come to face us in good heart."
In overcoming Belcoo by 1-12 to 1-9 in the county final, Roslea revealed grit and tenacity but also underlined just how dependant they are on the Quigley brothers Sean and Seamus for scores.
The duo received red cards in a subsequent league game but have since been cleared to line out against Ballinagh
In the second-half of the Fermanagh decider, the Quigleys scored all seven of Roslea's points after they had led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
Sherry dovetailed between wing-forward and sweeper in that game, the outstanding feature of his mammoth contribution to his team's success being the first-class service he provided for the predatory brothers.
It was in the second-half in particular that Sherry summoned all his skill and vision to exploit space via accurate probing passes that ultimately proved central to his team's win.
But while he remains a key cog in the Roslea set-up with his leadership qualities as captain pronounced, the able backing provided by players like Niall Leonard, Kevin Cosgrove, Conor Quigley and his own brother Peter serve to underscore the depth of quality in the team.
Cosgrove is a capable midfield player who has gained experience in the county colours while Peter Sherry was a fixture with the county side before stepping down.
They bring considerable steel and strength to a Roslea outfit which favours a fast, economical brand of football.
"We are very much a team. There is a great spirit within the club overall and we are just very anxious now to bring this into the Ulster Club Championship," says Sherry.
Roslea manager Peter McGinnity is on the continent this week but his thoughts are very much on Sunday's game.
The former Fermanagh player has transformed the club's fortunes but feels that they must now make the most of the opportunity to do themselves justice on the Ulster stage.
In taking delivery of the New York Cup following Roslea's county final triumph, skipper Sherry eulogised McGinnity – who has rendered magnificent service to Fermanagh football – as a legend.
Now McGinnity is anxious to see the club he has served so well in various capacities thrive on a bigger stage.
McGinnity said: "We have been taking things one game at a time and we have got where we want to be.
"Now we have to step it up and meet an even more demanding challenge.
"Having won three Fermanagh titles we feel that we now have the capability to cope with the pressures of the Ulster Club Championship and we want to prove ourselves," he added.
This year marks the club's 125th anniversary and the feeling is that while another Fermanagh title is most welcome, winning the Ulster title would be the icing on the anniversary celebrations cake.