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Barry Owens looks for a final consolation

By John Campbell

Just three years ago he was the best full-back in Ulster by a country mile but a heart complaint, allied to other injuries, seriously disrupted his playing career.

Yet there were no recriminations, no wallowing in self-pity.

But Barry Owens has fought his way back and is making headlines at both county and club level.

Indeed few county players shouldered the burden of responsibility which became Barry's lot this year.

When several Fermanagh players left the squad and others were unavailable for different reasons, it was left to Owens as skipper to help massage what little morale was left and support manager John O'Neill in his bid to prevent a drama becoming a crisis.

Try as both did, Fermanagh were still left with considerable egg on their face following an inauspicious journey through the backwater of Division Four of the National League, a sad Ulster championship exit at the hands of Derry and a much more humiliating setback against minnows London in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.

As the outcome of a detailed review into Fermanagh's best-forgotten season, though, there could be a ration of consolation on the horizon for Owens.

On Sunday he will be at the heart of a Teemore defence that will confront a skilful Roslea forward division in a Fermanagh championship final at Brewster Park Enniskillen that is laced with possibilities.

Owens still has his dignity, pride and commitment and with experienced players such as Hugh Brady and Declan O'Reilly alongside him, he is capable of stoking a Teemore fire that could fan flames of apprehension for Roslea.

Former Fermanagh ace Peter McGinnity is in charge of a Roslea side that includes the Sherry brothers, Peter and James, who were among those unavailable to the county management this term while Seamus Quigley, Niall Cassidy, Kevin Cosgrove and Conor Quigley bring a liberal dash of skill to the table.

Roslea looked sharp and convincing in beating Devenish in a semi-final replay while Teemore were equally impressive in subduing the challenge of a Tempo side bolstered by the talented Keenan clan.

Teemore, in fact, were nine points down at one stage in that game and it was due in no small measure to the splendid example set by Barry Owens that their stunning recovery bore fruit.

They will not wish to find themselves in a similar precarious situation come Sunday - but a point in off the upright in injury-time will do just fine if it means a precious trophy at last.

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