Fermanagh GAA: End of season review

By Niall Gartland

A new man at the helm

IT was possibly no major surprise that Ryan McMenamin stepped down after two years at the helm. They crashed out of the Ulster Championship in their first outing against Monaghan, and missing out on promotion from Division Three was disappointing, albeit not a disaster. Still though, he can reflect on some good moments in charge of the Erne County – he was Rory Gallagher’s right-hand man when they reached the Ulster final in 2018, and they had a solid league campaign this year. The new man in charge is former Fermanagh footballer Kieran Donnelly, who was part of Peter Canavan’s backroom nearly a decade ago. He has plenty of managerial experience at clubs like Scotstown and Cavan Gaels, so it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on.

Derrygonnelly prove the doubters wrong

Not only have Derrygonnelly made up for losing last year’s Fermanagh championship final to Ederney, they’ve qualified for their first ever Ulster Championship final. They needed two replays to get to the final in Fermanagh, but they blotted out Enniskillen in the decider and haven’t looked back. Despite being underdogs, they defeated Dromore in the first round of Ulster after extra-time, and they were very impressive indeed in their semi-final against Clann Eireann. They’ve been serious ambassadors for Fermanagh football, and now the biggest test of all – the Ulster final in January. If they win, they’ll be the first team ever from the Erne County to do so. They only seem to be getting better and better with every game – they were patchy enough in their first-round drawn encounter against Ederney, for example, but they’re incredibly hard to beat and lads like Conall Jones and defensive bulwark Declan Cassidy are in brilliant form.

A year to remember for the hurlers

FERMANAGH hurlers won the Lory Meagher competition in quite some style with a well-deserved victory over Cavan at Croke Park. It was some turnaround as they finished second-from-bottom in Division 3B, the bottom Division, and victories over Monaghan, Longford and Cavan propelled them all the way to the title. A word to for the Lisbellaw hurlers, currently the only team from the county fielding at senior level. They claimed a stunning victory over Tyrone champions Carrickmore to qualify for the Ulster Intermediate Championship final, a game that will be played in early January. There’s plenty of good work being done at underage level as well, which is great to see.

Discord on the ladies scene

THE Fermanagh ladies won the All-Ireland Junior Championship in 2020, but they had a stop-start season this year and it all came out in the wash when some players issued a walk out ultimatum to the county board. They highlighted a list of grievances ranging from sponsorship, fixtures, expenses, finances, gear and general conduct. Time will tell whether it’ll all get sorted, but it was probably no surprise when manager Johnny Garrity stepped aside around the same time. They’ve appointed James Daly as his successor, and he had plenty of experience on the ladies scene managing the likes of his native Armagh and in more recent years, Cavan. It’s worth noting that they had some bad luck this season as well between injuries and Covid outbreaks.

Dominic does the business in Leitrim

DOMINIC Corrigan has earned a reputation as one of the most astute managers in Ulster football, and he brought his expertise to Leitrim club Ballinamore this season. Corrigan led them to their first senior title since 1990 with victory over Mohill in the final. It was a fantastic game broadcast live on television, so it did the reputation of Leitrim football no harm as well. Corrigan will be on more familiar territory next season as he’s taken the reins at his native Kinawley.

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