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Devenish bid to mark ton in style as Harps chase treble

 

By John Campbell

Fermanagh goalkeeper Thomas Treacy found himself in the spotlight as his side made an abortive bid to create an impact in both the Ulster Championship and the All-Ireland qualifiers.

Tomorrow he will again command attention when he lines out with Devenish in the county final against title holders Derrygonnelly Harps at Brewster Park, Enniskillen (3.30) - and not because of his acknowledged shot-stopping ability.

Instead, depending on what course the game takes, Treacy could find himself entrusted with the task of potting vital scores because of his penchant for converting frees from long distances.

He has accomplished this on more than one occasion in the Erne championship and will be ready to deploy his skills in this vein if required tomorrow.

During Peter McGrath's reign, Treacy proved himself a capable custodian for his county and his reflexes will certainly be tested tomorrow.

Derrygonnelly's desire to land a hat-trick of titles might be said to be dwarfed by Devenish's hunger to claim the title as the icing on their centenary cake but all that will depend from which side of the fence you are coming.

While a series of events have already been held to mark this significant milestone, the feeling within the Devenish club is that the biggest prize in Fermanagh football would suitably embellish their centenary extravaganza.

With Treacy providing confidence and authority between the posts, Barry Mulrone, a familiar fixture in the Fermanagh side for some time now, brings a dynamic work ethic and indomitable spirit.

And this is complemented by the input of former Fermanagh player Marty O'Brien who is still putting in the hard yards at club level to such an extent that there is regret he called time on his inter-county career.

Mulrone, who plays at wing-forward for the county team, normally fulfils the role of a bustling full-forward with his club and as such he could prove a hot handful for the Derrygonnelly rearguard.

Jason Love and Terry O'Flanagan are other influential figures in the Devenish side, both accomplished at creating chances and taking scores. O'Flanagan can make his presence felt in the middle third of the pitch and is also adept at dropping back to help out his defence.

And while these players prepare to galvanise their side, Derrygonnelly do not have to look too far for their own inspirational forces.

The Jones clan - Conall, Garvan, Leigh, Ryan and Mickey - along with the evergreen Paul Ward, the busy Niall Cassidy and the reinvigorated Tiernan Daly can help to keep the holders ticking over.

Brothers Ryan and Garvan Jones form the midfield pairing while their other brother Conall is a talented player who is imbued with pace and style.

Leigh Jones is a young, lively forward while Mickey is one of the best man-markers not just in Fermanagh but in the province.

Up front, Ward's experience and precise finishing could prove important attributes especially when the heat is on.

Ward can maximise half-chances and is very much a confidence player who can influence the outcome of games.

Certainly Devenish manager Malachy Cullen has the highest respect for tomorrow's opponents.

"They are a strong, resilient team with good players in key positions and while they have won back-to-back titles we have to go back 21 years for our last title triumph so that tells you something," points out Cullen.

"This is going to be a mighty challenge for us no matter what way you look at it."

While Cullen feels that his team's desire to end their lengthy title famine will prove a major spur, he is aware that Derrygonnelly's tenacity and resilience can buttress them if and when the heat is applied.

"Derrygonnelly are the kind of side that don't give up easily and they will keep pressing you," points out Cullen. "They are all very familiar with each other and this is fully reflected in the way in which they play the game.

"You look at a player like Paul Ward there and you see someone who is in his early thirties but who is still pulling the strings.

"Not only that but he is also getting them scores that are winning games and you really can't ask for more than that. It's that level of experience and craft that we have to combat and one thing is certain - we simply cannot afford to find ourselves chasing the game.

"We have to try and get into a comfortable position if we can and then minimise errors particularly when it comes to protecting our possession.

"If you give the ball away against a team like Derrygonnelly you will be punished and that's something that will be very much in our minds from the word go. They will seek to put pressure on us and keep it on so we have to be prepared for this."

They may have diced with danger when they drew their semi-final with Roslea but the emphatic manner in which Derrygonnelly came good in the replay, 2-15 to 0-10, suggests that their appetite has been suitably sharpened for more success tomorrow.

Devenish will undoubtedly be fuelled by a raging thirst to mount the county throne but it's difficult to overlook Derrygonnelly's slick teamwork and smart finishing - attributes that should help to keep them ahead of the pack for the third year on the trot.

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