Fancied championship contenders Devenish and Derrygonnelly both share the distinction of having come to grief at the hands of Teemore. With those championship hopes now a distant memory, league honours take centre stage.
“The disappointment of the championship defeat hasn’t fully eased yet,” said Devenish manager Sylvester Mulrone. “Especially since on that occasion we just didn’t perform both on the playing field and off it. But the league is still a compensation and we will be making every effort to win it. It’s a question of pushing on.”
Devenish’s preparations for the weekend’s game have not quite been as intense as for championship, the delay in playing this semi-final being a factor. But Mulrone is optimistic that on this occasion his squad can deliver a strong performance.
“Overall over the last four to five years we have been delivering consistent displays, our record of reaching a number of league and championship semi-finals and finals is evidence of that.”
But Mulrone fully anticipates a tough battle with the Harps
“Both sides are evenly matched and this season it has been one win and one defeat in the two games we have faced them.”
Over in the Derrygonnelly camp there is also keen awareness of the toughness of the challenge that lies in store.
“This is our biggest derby tie and we know that in their games with us Devenish will be raising their game 20 or 30 percent,” said Roger McGovern, member of their management panel.
“In any case in Fermanagh football any team on a given day can beat any opposition.”
Derrygonnelly will be keen to avoid their league experience of last season when they were ousted in the semi-final by eventual champions Ederney.
“After our championship exit in 2013 we seemed to tail off,” said McGovern. “We don’t want to repeat that. Over the past weeks the panel have been working hard as the boys have knuckled down in their preparations.”
The Harps have no significant injury concerns going into the game, the only doubt being Leigh Jones. But Jones should be on board to partner with Paul Ward and target man Jonathan McGurn with Ryan Jones the hub at centrefield.
For Devenish, Chris O’Brien has been in exceptional form in the corner this season with John O’Flanagan one of the most prolific score-takers in the county.
In the middle of the park Martin O’Brien’s duel with county colleague Ryan Jones will be one of the pivotal individual battles while Devenish’s most consistent defender Vincent O’Brien will probably be given the man to man task of curtailing Ward.