By John Hughes
Fermanagh Senior Championship final
Derrygonnelly v Roslea
Sunday, Brewster Park, 2.30pm
With 2-18 under his belt, Sean Quigley looks assured of finishing as the senior championship’s top scorer in 2019. His nearest rival, Belnaleck’s Darragh McGurn who registered 3-11, will only be able to watch from the stands as Roslea take on Derrygonnelly in the decider.
While the Roslea number 14 is clearly his side’s shining light, Quigley is dismissive of such talk. He insists there are no heroes on this team. Everyone is expected to pull their weight and that collective effort is what has got the Shamrocks to the county showpiece after an indifferent enough league.
“It maybe wasn’t the league campaign we were looking for with injuries and that, but we got it sorted out towards championship. Coming up to the Erne Gaels game in the championship we had recognised we weren’t going to make a league semi-final. We had to consolidate ourselves in Division 1 and we had a lot of time to prepare for that game.
“We got a couple of players back, but, in saying that, we lost a couple of really big players in James [McMahon] and Niall [Cassidy]. But the way we have played just shows we have real strength in depth. We have players like Kevin Cosgrove, Peter Lynch, Conor Quigley.
“Niall Cosgrove has been exceptional in every game we’ve played in the championship this year. Against Tempo in the drawn game he played corner back on Damian Kelly, then in the replayed game he played wing half forward, midfield to great effect.
“We have a lot of players in the same cut, boys who’ll do a job for us, wherever it needs done. Danny Mohan has stepped into goals for us and he could easily be playing around the middle of the field.”
It’s a philosophy that is typical of high achieving small clubs across the country. Fierce devotion to the jersey, a willingness to do whatever it takes for the cause. After a testing enough year with the county, Quigley agrees that it was a welcome change of tempo to pull the boots on with the club.
“It’s always nice to get back playing with Roslea and playing with the boys you’ve grown up with and you’re used to playing with. It’s more relaxed environment in comparison to the county scene. It’s nice to be playing a bit of a more open style of football.”
That freedom paid huge dividends in that championship quarter-final against Belleek as the side travelled to Ederney with the bookies having them pegged as underdogs.
“When it came to the championship we were fairly confident that if we got over Erne Gaels we would have a good chance of getting to a county final, thankfully it worked out like that,” said Quigley.
“We went down to Erne Gaels about a fortnight previous to that game and they really schooled us that day. They run us about the field, they beat us by five or six points, but it could have been 15 or 16.
“We had our stall set out though. We had focused on that quarter-final for a long time. We knew how we were going to play and how we thought we could beat Erne Gaels.
“We got a wee bit of luck in that game. I got a rebound from the penalty to get a goal and we got through, but I think we deserved to go through simply because of how we approached it. First round of the championship is just about getting over the line and that’s what we did.”
In the semi-final, the shoe was perhaps on the other foot with Roslea favoured to beat Tempo. While they got past the Maguires comfortably enough in the end, it took a replay.
“We were lucky enough,” said Quigley. “We probably had the game sewn up in the drawn game and then it ended up we were happy to hear the final whistle in the end and get a draw out of it. You take the rough with the smooth I suppose.”
And after being rated as outsiders for the championship Roslea now find themselves back in the decider. When all is said and done, the club has shown serious championship pedigree over this past decade. Did Quigley feel his side had been underestimated by the pundits.
“Roslea weren’t expected to win the championship anywhere bar in Roslea, and maybe even in Roslea too. But you have to remember the nucleus of this Roslea team have four championship medals and got to six or seven finals in the last ten years. The bones of that team are still there.
“When it comes to championship football and league football, you’re looking at two different games. Thankfully we have boys who have been there before and done it in games where it’s just about getting through and getting over the line.
“We have a lot of experienced players and that’s really stood to us, especially in the Belleek and in the replayed game against Tempo, because it was really our more experienced players who stood up and dragged us over the line.”
The final will hold few surprises for either of these sides. They have been frequent sparring partners in league and championship over the past decade or so. Quigley, for one, holds the Harps in the height of respect.
“Derrygonnelly are an outstanding team. In my eyes they are the best club team in Fermanagh that I have set my eyes on in the last five or six years. They have completely dominated Fermanagh football. They lost a couple of league games this year, but that had a lot to do with injuries, maybe player availability. But they still made the top two or three in the county.
“They’re getting stronger every year and it’s just about the rest of the teams in Fermanagh trying to catch up with them.”