When Derrygonnelly and Devenish met in the semi-final last year the result was 2-13 to 0-9.
The year before that Derrygonnelly won the 2015 semi-final 1-14 to 0-9. When the sides met in the league this year Derrygonnelly won 1-21 to 1-13 in Canon Maguire Park before trotting down to St Mary’s Park and beating the hosts 1-8 to 1-9.
Noticing a pattern yet?
Archie Greene’s men certainly have the winning habit against Devenish. That explains the bookie’s thinking at any rate. Currently Derrygonnelly are 2/5 favourites to take the Fermanagh title with Devenish out at 5/2.
Those trying to make a case for Devenish in this decider have made reference to the galvanising effect of the club’s centenary celebrations and the esprit de corp in a team which has been knocking on the door for the best part of a decade now.
The problem with those factors is that there is nothing very tangible about them. All the history and long service in the world won’t kick balls over the bar.
Derrygonnelly are league and championship winners two years in a row. If they have been fractionally less dominant this season there are extenuating factors for that.
Ryan Jones, Tiarnan Daly and Eamon McHugh all struggled with long term injury while Conall Jones and Garvan Jones were on their travels. When you have men of that calibre coming back into the fold, you’re in a sunny place.
The Harps have had to see off their two main rivals in the past few years on their way to the final. They showed their class in the last ten minutes of the quarter-final to get a two point victory over Erne Gaels. They were caught napping by Roslea in the semi-final and taken to a replay. Their 11 point win in that rematch is probably a more accurate reflection of where Derrygonnelly are at than the result the first day.
Underdogs Devenish have reached the final under the radar. They needed a replay to get past the quarter-final challenge of Teemore. Then in the semi-final they rather fell over the line against Tempo.
There is something to be said for the argument that having failed so many times to reach the county showpiece in recent years that the manner of getting there is something of a side issue.
However form is a factor in all games and Devenish are coming into this final with an air of quiet competence, rather than the aura of authority which will predominate up the hill in Derrygonnelly.
You don’t get to county finals for nothing though, and Devenish have a lot of quality in their ranks. Barry Mulrone, Terry O’Flanagan, Marty O’Brien, Thomas Treacy, Martin Doherty, Jason Love, Chris O’Brien are all capable of troubling any side in the county.
Indeed if those players all click on the day Malachy Cullen’s men will be in with a real shout of snatching the three-in-a-row from Derrygonnelly’s grasp.
But that is what we are counting on. Devenish have to have everything go right for them and Derrygonnelly have to suffer the sort of systems failure which almost saw them come a cropper against Roslea for this final to go against the form book.
The neutrals would probably like to see a new name on the trophy, but all the indicators are that Derrygonnelly are on track to make history.
Posted: 6:34 pm September 30, 2017