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Veteran duo set shining example to Harps youngsters: Green

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Going strong: Dermot Feeley is doing the business aged 42

Going strong: Dermot Feeley is doing the business aged 42

Going strong: Dermot Feeley is doing the business aged 42

Seldom in the history of the GAA has the timespan of players' careers been under so much discussion than as at present.

The commitment expected from inter-county players in particular is such that there are enforced changes in lifestyles. Huge sacrifices have to be made and even family life can be disrupted on a regular basis.

If the demands on club players are not quite so excessive, a huge effort nonetheless is expected for the greater good of their respective team.

While some managers are currently left to wring their hands because key personnel have decided to undertake global travel, participate in other sports or focus on their professional and business careers, Derrygonnelly Harps boss Martin Green can point to two shining examples of club commitment that is nothing less than absolute.

His team will face Erne Gaels in the Fermanagh Senior Football Championship final on Sunday bolstered by goalkeeper Dermot Feeley and wing-forward Kevin Cassidy, both of whom have already celebrated their 42nd birthday.

What is more, this intrepid duo will be in pursuit of their fifth championship medal this weekend having already tasted title success in 1995, 2004, 2009 and 2015.

It's the considerable carrot of perhaps sharing in the team's bid to retain the accolade for the first time that is driving Derrygonnelly's senior citizens to even greater heights.

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In contrast to Harps' familiarity with the silverware spanning the past two decades, Erne Gaels have to go back to 1981 for their last county coup.

Harps boss Green acknowledges that he is very fortunate to have an old guard as dedicated and ambitious as when the team first broke through in 1995.

"The example which Dermot and Kevin show is excellent," maintained Green. "They have been ever-present in the side and set a shining example to our younger players.

"Obviously there is much speculation on the length of players' careers right now, but these two boys just keep going on and on and on."

Indeed, a number of players on both of this weekend's teams were not even born when Derrygonnelly were taking delivery of the Fermanagh Championship prize back in 1995.

Schoolteacher Feeney and local government official Cassidy pride themselves on their fitness - one of the reasons, indeed, why they are still able to stave off competition for their places in the side.

Derrygonnelly have key players in Mickey Jones, Ryan Jones, Conall Jones, Paul Ward, Declan Cassidy and Neil Gallagher while Erne Gaels will look to Seamus Ryder, Thomas McCaffrey and Ryan Lyons for some inspiration on Sunday.

Fermanagh manager Peter McGrath will be at Brewster Park, Enniskillen to assess the talent on display but, as keen as they are, Feeley and Cassidy aren't expecting to receive a call from the boss to pull on the county colours!


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