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Desire the reason for Harps' high five, says Flanagan

Derrygonnelly Harps 0-10 Roslea Shamrocks 1-3

Five-star: Derrygonnelly celebrate another Fermanagh title win
Five-star: Derrygonnelly celebrate another Fermanagh title win
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Derrygonnelly Harps have closed out the decade in Fermanagh club football by claiming the final victory of their own 'drive for five' and seeing off Roslea in the first county final of the year.

The Erne county tournament used to be as notoriously competitive as most straight knock-outs are, with six different clubs claiming at least one in the previous decade.

But this run, started by Martin 'Archie' Greene's three in a row and finished off by the management duo of Sean Flanagan and Brendan Rasdale has transformed the perception of the west Fermanagh club.

"There is a lot of pressure on us to keep the run going. Nobody wants to lose and the boys themselves have great drive to want to keep winning," said Flanagan afterwards as the incessant rain did little to keep hordes of Derrygonnelly folk off the sodden turf.

"It is pressure, myself and Brendy (Rasdale, assistant manager) and the boys try week in, week out to keep training varied and getting the intensity going.

"There's been all this talk of a 'drive for five' and it's not easy keeping a lid on it at training and keeping boy's heads, getting them ready for a Championship final."

At the heart of everything good since their first win in 1995, and playing a starring role here, was 44-year-old Kevin Cassidy. When the game hung in the balance midway through the second half he arrowed over a point from distance, before being fouled for the free that Conall Jones converted to take the game away from the grasp of Peter McGinnity's Roslea.

"Even coming into this game he had to get a check for fitness this morning," revealed Flanagan.

"There was a doubt he was even going to make it with a hamstring niggle and as soon as he got warmed up he gave us the nod; 'yeah, I'm ok'.

"I didn't even need to see his stats, from the first half play, I said it to the boys at half-time, the workrate, the ball that man got on, the desire he showed. The other boys have to step up when they see a man doing that."

The challengers were robust in defence but one-dimensional in attack. On a brutal day, McGinnity calculated that the best thing was to isolate Sean Quigley at the edge of the Derrygonnelly square and rain ball on top of him.

It yielded a fortuitous goal on 21 minutes when Niall Cosgrove's delivery got a slight touch off Quigley and fooled goalkeeper Odhran McBrien as it bounced into the top corner.

Immediate action was called for and Derrygonnelly planted the towering Stephen McGullion in front of that area, cancelling them entirely out.

"It's no secret. We have watched them all year and we have worked hard on it at training," commented Flanagan on countering Roslea's style.

"Still, at the same time, trying to press out the field, it is not easy getting that balance, trying to get a big man back ahead of the ball.

"In fairness, it was a freak sort of a goal that went in. Straight to the net, it is not easy on a day like that, but overall the boys worked hard in defence breaking that ball and getting back in first to get the scraps."

Harps went in two points ahead at the break with brothers Conall and Garvan Jones accurate and while Roslea cancelled that out by the second minute of the second half, they hadn't a single effort on goal for the rest of the game.

Derrygonnelly themselves will rue seven second half wides, but the conditions for the game were deplorable.

It was left to substitute Aidan McKenna to seal it with a point three minutes into injury time.

The Fermanagh champions now face whoever emerges from the Antrim Championship on October 20th, with that game hosted by Corrigan Park in Belfast.

DERRYGONNELLY: O McBrien; J Love, T Daly, E McHugh; Lee Jones, M Jones G McGinley 0-1; R Jones, Shane McGullion 0-1; Stephen McGullion, K Cassidy 0-1, D Cassidy; G McGovern, Conall Jones 0-3, 1f, G Jones 0-3, 2f.

Subs: A McKenna 0-1, for G McGovern (54), N Gallagher for K Cassidy (62).

ROSLEA: D Mohan; J Connolly 0-1, M Renfrew, C Sherlock; C Quigley, N Beggan, M Beggan; D McAleer, K Cosgrove; B Sherlock 0-1, P Lynch, S McMahon; N Cosgrove, Sean Quigley 1-1, 1f, D Reilly.

Subs: J McMahon for P Lynch, C Mulligan for Reilly (both HT), L Lynch for Connolly (49), P Sherry for Renfrew (49), Seamus Quigley for S McMahon (56).

Referee: Dermott Love (Enniskillen Gaels).

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