Jones expects Derrygonnelly to rise to the occasion
By John Harrington
A Fermanagh club has never won the AIB Ulster Club Senior Football Championship and Derrygonnelly Harps are determined to rewrite the record books.
They’ve learned a lot from six Ulster championship campaigns in seven years and now believe they’re ready to create some history when they play reigning provincial champions Kilcoo in Sunday’s Final.
“I think it's important for the club to have the chance to show what Fermanagh football is about and in particular Derrygonnelly and what we can offer,” says Derrygonnelly attacker Conall Jones.
“We've been in Ulster in six of the last seven years and we've gotten to three semi-finals including the last one there. We've fallen short twice in the semi-final stage, one of them went to a replay, one of them was to Kilcoo.
“It was important for us in the club to take the next step and thankfully this year we've done that and gotten into an Ulster Final.
“We have been gaining experience over the years and I think it's important in this competition, experience is very important. If you look at teams that win their county championship for the first time they don't progress too far normally in Ulster.
“The fact that we have been there or there abouts has definitely helped us in the Ulster campaign. I suppose it's the same for Kilcoo as well.
“They've been involved in Ulster a long time and the last year the Ulster was competed for they won it and went the whole way to the All-Ireland Final.”
Reigning Ulster champions Kilcoo, who have also won nine Down championships in the last 10 years, go into Sunday’s match as warm favourites.
Derrygonnelly won’t fear them, though. The two clubs also met in the 2019 AIB Ulster Club SFC semi-final and the Fermanagh side could count themselves unlucky to have come out on the wrong side of a two-point defeat.
“Yeah, a couple of years ago was a very tight game,” says Jones. “We played probably to the best of our abilities that day. Going into this game, obviously we're going to be underdogs with what Kilcoo have done in this competition last time out.
“We just have to park it, we know what Kilcoo are going to bring. We know the experience they have, we know the players they have.
“They're a very fit side with a good management team. But we're just going to have to take what we can from that game and try and bring into this game at the weekend and just leave it all on the field I suppose.
“We’re confident in our own ability and we know what we can bring to the table. It’s about not changing what has gone well for us before in the championship.”