By Damien Campbell
The 2014 league season wrapped up and as is par for the course for most clubs it has been a question of underachievement. For at the end of the day there’s only going to be one winner.
For some of the ten clubs however it was a season when they clearly went backwards and over the winter there will be some troubling AGM’s.
On the home front it was an unqualified run of success for the Shamrocks as they claimed all that was on offer at adult level. They might have had to work hard in some of their key games late in both competitions but came through and no one could dispute that they remain the strongest squad in the county.
And they may well continue in similar vein next season as the challenging pack don’t look to be all that threatening.
On the provincial front however it was a case of another early exit and the failure to make an impact outside the county has to be dispiriting. What impact if any that will have on Roslea is a moot point but their celebration of domestic success will be tempered by the awareness that on the wider stage they can’t make headway.
Having reached the 2013 championship final there had to be an air of optimism in the O’Rahilly’s camp for 2014 but unhappily they returned to form, which meant a mediocre campaign on all fronts.
Swiftly dispatched from the championship race they continued to labour in the league before, again true to form, produced a late rally to secure their top flight status for another year.
A panel who do have a healthy nucleus of accomplished club players but to the deepening despair of their support there seems little prospect of this potential being realised.
Well at least the Harps reached the league final where they were to put it up to all conquering Roslea. Their challenge was all the more praiseworthy since they played virtually the full hour reduced to 14. That said this was also a disappointing season for them in the light of their abysmal championship effort where they feebly bowed out to a Teemore side far below them in the league pecking order.
Still they look a determined and experienced platoon of players and they will be back in the top echelon of ambitious clubs for next season.
A lot of promise yet in the end nothing to show for it. First round championship victory over former champions Tempo, followed up by a win over neighbours Erne Gaels should have been the spark for a full scale late season assault but it all faded into dust.
The upshot was that they bowed out in the semi-finals in both league and championship which was a poor return given the fact that things had looked so much better earlier in the year. Still a first division side of real worth but failure to make the final step is beginning to be a concern.
The north Fermanagh club will be one of the most disappointed as they reflect over the winter on the season past. They came into the year on the back of a long overdue league title which looked like a catalyst for a full blast at the championship. No surprise that their league effort lacked a sense of real drive, this was definitely a secondary target.
All of which meant that their decisive defeat to Roslea in the championship was a real downer. Ederney were left with the realisation that they still have a considerable distance to travel if the key prize of the New York Gold Cup is to be claimed.
In the main a satisfactory enough year for the Belleek side though it was mixed fare. They remained comfortably placed in the league, never really under any threat of going down. On the other hand they were never really a serious contender for league silverware and they failed to fire in the championship, the defeat to local rivals Devenish will have hurt.
Still their current squad has been gradually gaining in top flight experience and while they don’t look like setting the world on fire they have cemented their status. Solid citizens of the first division would be a fair description of their present rating.
A bit of a dud all round for the First Fermanagh’s. They were always going to find it hard going in the league and right from the outset the pre-season forecast was delivered on as they remained anchored near the basement. Relegation on the cards from a long way out and that was duly their fate.
But the real horror of the year was the intermediate championship. Given their pedigree and first division experience they looked to be a shoo in for that title and perhaps a lot more in the autumn. But they were ambushed in spectacular fashion by a hungry Maguiresbridge side in one of the upsets of the season.
One game at a time is the mantra and failure to hold onto that is invariably a recipe for disaster as Newtown learned to their cost.
The Donagh side will be generally well pleased with the way things panned out for them. Reaching the league semi-final was definitely a bonus and in that game they gave a decent enough account of themselves against Roslea. The fact too that they made the Erne Cup one final was an indication that, despite a heavy reversal here, the club has a solid panel of players.
So overall an encouraging 2014 for them and they have no reason not to believe that they can build on this and make further headway in 2015. The anticipated progress of several of their excellent youth players of the recent seasons looks to be on track. One of the clubs who can find a silver lining in the season.
The Mountain Road men will in the end have to view the season as a reversal. True to form they upped their performances in the championship and polished off opposition which was, on paper at least, in better shape. Teemore’s admirable championship credentials came to the fore.
And having reached the final they gave favourites Roslea a testing enough 60 minutes before faltering in the run in. It was a fine championship campaign.
But in the league Teemore were always in trouble and at no stage did they give the impression that they would be able to clamber their way out of the hole they found themselves in.
So it’s back to the second division and with a number of older hands perhaps signalling the end, climbing back up could be a problem.
Another side which more or less flopped and who will have to think deeply over the winter break. An excuse perhaps in 2013 for failing to push on from their double triumph of 2012 but coming into 2014 ambition and belief had been rejuvenated.
It all began promisingly enough with a positive start, but from mid season onwards matters began to unravel. A squad shorn of a number of first choice personnel taking its toll.
A championship run however presumably have rekindled the spark but the Maguires fell at the first hurdle and from there on it was more or less freefall. A string of late league defeats eventually had them overhauled and they finished out of the top four.
A decidedly lacklustre year and worrying times may lie ahead.