‘Flanagan orchestrates the Harps’
Sean Flanagan has given long and honourable service over many seasons to Derrygonnelly's cause but now in the twilight of a fine career, he has rarely bettered the quite outstanding performance that he delivered for the Harps in this Junior Championship decider played at Lisnaskea on Saturday.
From first minute to last, Flanagan was the colossus who bestrode this contest and he was the architect, draughtsman, inspiration, call it what you will, of his side's performance. In a side that had no shortage of excellent individual contributions, Flanagan's effort was still a remarkable tour de force, which marked him out as the supremo, totally involved in practically anything of note that Derrygonnelly achieved.
In the opening half he lorded matters at midfield acting as a smooth linkman between defence and attack. Just prior to the break he sustained a knee injury and there was speculation that he would not be resuming for the second spell.
But resume he did and while the mobility, not his forte at the best of times, was reduced even more so, he remained a titanic figure for his side, cropping up regularly to shore up the defence.
While his contribution was clearly immense, there was an admirable supporting cast. Centre half Aidy Leonard enjoyed a splendid match, making some timely interceptions and also surging forward with positive running. Centre half-forward Brendan Rasdale helped himself to a hatful of points and full-forward John McGovern wasn't far behind that trio.
Also featuring strongly was the younger brigade epitomised by the reliable play in the full-back line of Jonathan McGurn, and of Aiden Gallagher and Garvin McGinley in attack.
With such a plethora of quality individual displays ranged against them the wonder was that Roslea weren't rolled over more comprehensively than the final 10 points that separated the ill-matched teams at the finish.
Given the fact that they were struggling from an early stage it was more than a shade surprising that the Shamrocks reached the interval still in the picture, being a mere three points adrift and with the doubt about the ability of the dominant Flanagan to continue, Roslea had everything to look forward to.
Their defence, without any player emerging as an outstanding figure, had collectively done very well indeed in curbing the Derrygonnelly attack. But the pressure was to become more incessant on them as the second half moved on and inevitably the toll began to tell on them. In the end the constant demands found them leaving the gaps and by the end Derrygonnelly were starting to romp through with increasing ease.
For a disappointing Roslea side, wing-half forward Ryan McCormack looked threatening on occasion, and midfielder Joe Cosgrove managed to claim a certain measure of possession, and Ciaran Cassidy also showed some enterprise, but overall it was a lame Roslea display.
The early exchanges set the tenor of the game, with Derrygonnelly immediately looking purposeful and pacy. Brendan Rasdale shot them into a lead that they were never to lose with score from a free and Stephen Love arrowed over an excellent shot from play.
Rasdale soon added another in response to the first Roslea score, which had been supplied by Ryan McCormack before Barry Grant hit the second Roslea score.
Thereafter it was a case of Derrygonnelly steadily building up a commanding grip though this was not to be reflected on the scoreline. A mixture of some solid Roslea defensive work plus wasted chances was the reason for this before matters improved for them towards half time when they hit three points, all from play taken by John McGovern, Garvin McGinley and Brendan Rasdale.
Roslea had been under the cosh but they almost recovered a lot of lost ground when they were presented with a clear-cut goal opportunity, but the shot lacked decision and Harps keeper Patrick Murphy was able to grab the weak effort. The half did end on a somewhat more promising note for Roslea as they stitched together their most fluent move of the hour, which sent James Callaghan in for a good score to leave an interval scoreline of six to three.
On the restart it was Derrygonnelly who set promptly about the task of putting the game beyond Roslea's reach and by the three-quarter mark they had done that with three scores from McGinley, Rasdale and substitute Daniel Ward. The Harps were in full flow and were unlucky not to have collected a goal, McGinley rounding the keeper leaving an unprotected net to shoot at, but from an admittedly tight angle, he saw his shot smash back off the woodwork.
He did add a point in the next attack before Roslea at last broke the sequence with a score from Kevin Boyle, but there was no question of Roslea being able to mount a late rally. Gary Smith, another of Derrygonnelly's experienced squad, hit his side's eleventh point to underline their control and the game fizzled out in the final minutes as Roslea accepted their fate.
A raft of substitutions from both sides underlined this, leaving Derrygonnelly to round off a commendable team effort with a closing trio of points.
Derrygonnelly: Patrick Murphy; Jonathan McGurn; Peter Jones; John McGurn; Neil Gallagher; Aiden Leonard; Aiden Maguire; Sean Flanagan and Francis McGurl; Garvin McGinley(0-3); Brendan Rasdale,capt(0-5); Aiden Gallagher; Gary Smith(0-1); John McGovern(0-2) and Stephen Love(0-1); Subs used - Daniel Ward(0-1); Barry McGrath(0-1); Terence Greene; Vincent Foy and Niall Greene. Other Subs: Kevin O'Malley, Emmett Mc Cabe, Stephen Jones, Barry Mc Cauley, Ciaran Dundas, Gerald Maguire and John Murphy.
Managers: Francis Ward and Gerald Maguire.
Roslea: Paul McKenna; Dominic Reilly; John Mohan Enda Reilly; Damian McClave; Cathal Rooney; Ruari McGuinness; Joe Cosgrove and Sean Sherry; Ciaran Cassidy; James Callaghan(0-1) ; Ryan McCormack(0-2); Barry Grant; Niall Mulligan and Phelim Connolly. Subs - John Little; Kevin Boyle(0-1); Martin McClave; and Jason O'Connor.
Referee: Peter Owens, Belnaleck.