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Trillick are a major step up but Harps relish fight: Jones


Driving force: Ryan Jones will aim to spearhead Derrygonnelly Harps’ efforts in the Ulster Club quarter-final
Driving force: Ryan Jones will aim to spearhead Derrygonnelly Harps’ efforts in the Ulster Club quarter-final
John Campbell

By John Campbell

What's seldom is wonderful and Derrygonnelly Harps midfield dynamo Ryan Jones will heartily concur with that.

When his team overcame Antrim champions Cargin in their recent Ulster Club preliminary round tie, they actually doubled the number of wins they had managed to chalk up in an eight-year involvement in the competition.

It's not a statistic that sits comfortably with a Harps outfit that has won five Fermanagh Championship titles on the trot and Ryan concedes that they could have hoped for a less demanding task than having to meet neighbours Trillick, the new Tyrone champions, in Sunday's quarter-final at Brewster Park, Enniskillen.

Derrygonnelly have too often been cast in the roles of also-rans in the province's flagship club tournament and Ryan is anxious to see his team strike a significant blow for football in the Erne County by reaching the semi-final for the first time.

Yet the fact that Trillick overcame some formidable opposition in winning the Tyrone Championship and are backboned by established county team players in the Donnelly brothers Mattie and Richie and the Brennan duo Lee and Rory will ensure that the Harps will be stretched to the limit if they are to upset the provincial applecart.

"While we were delighted to get over Cargin, let's call a spade a spade here. Trillick are going to be a serious step up for us because at the end of the day there is great experience ingrained in their team," pointed out Jones, one of five players bearing this surname in the Derrygonnelly line-up.

"They have players who have performed in All-Ireland finals with Tyrone and won provincial Championship medals at inter-county level as well as having been nominated for All Stars, so it's not hard to see why we will find ourselves up against it."

Jones and his midfield partner Stephen McGullion in particular face a herculean task in what promises to be a titanic midfield battle.

"Obviously midfield is a key area but this is a team game and we are fortunate in that we have players who have gained more experience and now relish the bigger tasks," insisted Jones.

"No three or four players will win you any game. A lot of guys in our team are now ready to stand up and be counted."

While Jones recognises that Trillick have their quota of stellar players, he is also keen to focus on the fact that they have other very accomplished performers in their line-up.

"When you look at Trillick, you see people like Daire Gallagher, Stephen O'Donnell and James Garrity, who are all excellent players in their own right," stated Jones.

"Obviously we are very familiar with Trillick, they are only down the road from us really. A lot of the lads on their team went to St Michael's College, Enniskillen just like several of our players did and Mattie Donnelly and I were actually in the same class.

"To be honest, in meeting them it would be just like playing against another club team in Fermanagh."

• Gaoth Dobhair surrendered their Donegal and Ulster Club Football Championship titles last night when they lost to Naomh Conaill by 0-8 to 0-7 in the second replay of the county decider.

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