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Jones will be real loss for Derrygonnelly Harps, says Greene

 

By Declan Bogue

Derrygonnelly Harps are set to be without attacker Leigh Jones for Sunday's Ulster Club Senior Championship semi-final replay against Cavan Gaels.

One of six Jones on the starting XV, Leigh recently gained employment with Apple and has been sent to Minneapolis, where he is a computer programmer, on a six-month contract.

Harps manager Martin 'Archie' Greene left media duties to assistant boss Mick Glynn in the wake of the weekend's draw to attend to urgent matters such as the availability of Jones.

"Leigh has to go back to America, I had to sort a few things like that. That's why I gave Mick the reins, I was afraid that I needed to get those wee things addressed," he stated.

"(Leigh) got a job in Belfast, a computer graduate for Apple, but their head office is in America, so he has to go away on a six-month contract to Minneapolis.

"He'll probably have to come back and forth which is the annoying thing, and he's away on Monday morning again."

As to whether he will be in purple and gold again this weekend, Greene has resigned himself to the loss.

"It's doubtful. I think the company just let him away for one day, Friday, and that was to travel," he said.

Bidding to become the first Fermanagh club to reach the senior provincial final since Enniskillen Gaels lost to Errigal Ciaran in the 2002 decider, Derrygonnelly have a number of players working away.

Garvan Jones is a teacher in Liverpool and is commuting for games, while Tiernan Daly - the county player who was absent for Sunday's drawn game with a hamstring strain - is living in Dublin, as is Aidan Gallagher.

The Fermanagh club were inspired by the performance of fellow countymen Belnaleck Art McMurrough's, who became the first team from the county to make an Ulster Junior football final in the curtain-raiser when they beat Doire Trasna 1-7 to 1-6.

The Derrygonnelly support was appreciated by Greene.

"It's a great day out for the whole parish and the club. They're role models for the club now and wee things like that bring the club on leaps and bounds," said the former county player, who won an Ulster Under-21 title with Fermanagh in 1994.

"These types of performances have been planned from when we took over three years ago.

"We don't feel any inferiority but we understand the standard at a higher level.

"We have a team to compete with most teams in Ulster but over the last three years we have been building to get up to the standard.

"We knew that we could compete well. It's going to be another tough game on Sunday, but that's the standard we want to be at all the time, so we're enjoying it and looking to push forward all the time."

And to that end, he hailed the work in the club that allows them to train at their home base on these long winter nights.

"We have a fully-lit training pitch and the facilities are top-class," he said.

"That has helped us over the last four or five years, all thanks to the effort of the committee. You're seeing the rewards for that infrastructure, and the work the lads have put in over the last number of years to get to that level."

Elsewhere, Ireland International Rules manager Joe Kernan has called up Monaghan stalwart Darren Hughes as a replacement for the second Test of the series Down Under.

Pearce Hanley, who plays Australian Rules football for the Gold Coast, broke a hand in the first Test in Adelaide and is out of contention for the decider in Perth this weekend.

Hughes was unavailable for Ireland duty this year as he was in club action for Scotstown, but following their recent Ulster Club series defeat to Kilcar, the experienced international can now go and link up with Kernan's squad.

"He ticks all the boxes; he covers us in a lot of positions. It will be great to have him here. However, it's unfortunate for Pearce - he was playing very well," stated Kernan.

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