Fermanagh Herald, October 29th, 1992.
‘Huge Saturday Crowd Treated to Superb Final’
Harps 2-12 Erne Gaels 2-11
‘The huge crowd who turned up to watch this SFL 2 Final last Saturday were treated to a truly memorable encounter with some delightful passages of play, heroic saves by both keepers and some terrific scores with Belleek’s Raymond Gallagher (1-10) and Derrygonnelly’s Garry Smyth (1-5) sharing the scoring honours.
Into the bargain, Belleek’s senior inter county panellist Eddie Reilly scored a goal of the highest order 5 minutes from half time to punish some woeful finishing from the Harps, who recorded 11 wides in this period alone.
Over the hour, Derrygonnelly deserved their close run win, for they had the greater variety of forward play and were able to call upon their young sub Owen Cassidy for the second half to help himself to a vital goal and a point in rapid succession midway through the half when Belleek looked to be heading for victory.
Having to field without the injured Joe Tunney, Belleek were forced to field a makeshift midfield of young Thomas Galagher, normally a half back, with Colm Cleary, normally a half forward, which played second fiddle to the Derrygonnelly pairing of Paul Greene and his captain Sean Flanagan.
With the Harps badly off target in the first half, scoring was pretty even with Ignatius Mc Gowan converting a great cross from Garry Smyth to give his side a 0-4 to 0-3 lead in the fifteenth minute. Smyth, another member of the county senior panel, and corner forward John McGovern were proving a real handful for the Belleek defence and, as was the pattern throughout, Erne Gaels relied heavily on Eddie Reilly and Gallagher for their scores.
Such was Derrygonnelly’s supremacy in the middle that the ever willing Arthur Mc Caffrey was pulled back to assist in that area and, having begun the move that brought the teams level at 0-4 each, repeated the exercise in the 18th minute for a move involving Liam Mc Cauley and Michael Mc Glone to provide Gallagher with an easy tap in for the first goal of the match.
Belleek’s corner back Pat Mc Cann was very prominent in this period and, having watched a Paul Greene effort come off the woodwork, he set up Eunan Ferguson for a counter-attack. He in turn found Reilly the full forward, who did well to get possession sliding underneath the ball ,got to his feet and soloed in from the right before blasting a terrific shot into the far corner of Dermot Feely’s goals (2-4 to 0-4).
At the other end, a three man move involving Martin Hamilton, Smyth (Garry) and Paul Greene saw his strongly hit shot superbly blocked by the Belleek goalkeeper Martin Mc Grath and cleared. Sustained Harps pressure led to frees conceded by desperate Belleek defence. John Mc Govern and Garry Smyth scored to leave a half time score of 2-4 to 0-6 in Belleek’s favour.
With young Martin Greene switching places with Dermot Gaffney at full back and Eoghan Cassidy on in the forward line, Derrygonnelly showed immediate urgency at the start of the second half, but it was Erne Gaels who drew first blood with yet another Gallagher pointed free after his side had recorded two wides. Harps points then came in quick succession from the hardworking Smyth and Pat Mc Gurn.
Erne Gaels, however, had plenty in reserve and motivated by Pat Mc Cann breaking out of defence, mounted a dangerous attack which ended with a Ferguson shot being deflected out for a 45’ which Gallagher expertly sent over, and when Reilly was fouled in their next raid, Gallagher’s hard hit effort had just enough power and had to be pushed over by a Harps defender. Play was now fast and furious, with some terrific scores at either end, John Mc Govern for Derrygonnelly and Gallagher, this time from play, to leave the score 2-8 to 0-9 in Belleek’s favour by the 13th minute.
Derrygonnelly badly needed a goal and they got two in the space of three minutes, the first from Garry Smyth, following a great run by Gaffney, with Flanagan putting Smyth in possession, and the second from Cassidy following a great cross by Glynn, the final shot eluding Mc Grath who was probably unsighted. That second goal left the Harps in front, (2-9 to 2-8) and a point from Cassidy gave the Harps some breathing space.
Such was the relish with which forwards were contesting the ball, a score looked on a either end, with Mc Cann and his half back and captain Brendan Ward outstanding at the heart of the Belleek defence. At the other end, Gaffney was relishing his new role and Paul Greene was dropping back unselfishly to help out.
Then came the turning point of the game when Gallagher, just after converting a second 45’ cut in from the left before passing back to Mc Caffrey, his fierce shot had goal written all over it, but Dermot Feely managed to deflect it onto the woodwork before clearing.
The pressure, however, was now almost constantly on the Belleek defence, and after yet another Gallagher free at the other end, Garry Smyth, operating on either wing, fired over two quick points in succession, to go two points clear with just a minute of normal time to go.
Fittingly, it was Raymond Gallagher who had the final say, hitting his tenth point, again from a free, after Pat Mc Cann was fouled. And so ended a thrilling final that was hugely enjoyed by a very large crowd.
Credit has to go to both clubs for agreeing to a Saturday fixture and, of
course, to both teams for serving up a very high quality match indeed.
The speech by Derrygonnelly’s captain Sean Flanagan was, according to the ‘Herald, of a similarly high standard. He said that it had been a long year, ‘probably the best in our history’ ‘We have trained hard and it just goes to show what you do put in you do get rewarded for.’
The Harps lineout on the day was: Dermot Feely, Aidy Leonard, Dermot Gaffney, Niall Smyth, Martin Greene, Donal Corrigan, Gabriel Jones, Paul Greene (0-1), Sean Flanagan, Garry Smyth (1-5), Michael Glynn, Ignatius Mc Gowan (0-1), John Mc Govern (0-3), Pat Mc Gurn (0-1), Martin Hamilton. Subs Used: Owen Cassidy (1-1), Kieran Murphy, Roger Mc Govern.