Two weeks after securing the five-in-a-row Derrygonnelly are celebrating clinching the double after getting the better of Ederney in a tempestuous decider in a drenched Kinawley.
There was just a point between the sides at half-time and although Ederney lost Stephen McElrone to a second yellow card early in the second half, the St Joseph’s continued to battle bravely and as the game moved towards added time there was still just that one point margin between them.
However, Gary McKenna chipped home a wonder goal to break Ederney hearts and secure the double for the Harps.
Brendan Rasdale was euphoric at the final whistle. This was his first league title following the failure to play last year’s league decider. This one clearly meant a lot to him.
“I’m proud to the bottom of my heart. It was great mental approach to that game today by our fellas,” said the Derrygonnelly joint boss. “To stay cool in the conditions and not kick ball away. To really play the game with great intelligence was something that I would be very proud of. Even once or twice when Ederney had their wee spells, they kept their composure, kept doing the right thing and got the result.
“There were a lot of really fine performances in that Harps team today. Good hard work. Today wasn’t a day for anything overly spectacular. It was going to be a day for toughness and getting the small things right time after time and think we did that.”
He was savouring the moment, but Rasdale also wanted to salute the massive effort Ederney put in right to the bitter end.
“Going in at half-time we felt the margin should have been that wee bit more, there’s no doubt about that. But we knew it was always going to be a one or two point game, so I guess mentally we were prepared for that.
“In a weird way Ederney started to play off the cuff when they went down a man. That was when they started to trouble us most, they just started to run at us. They probably diverted a bit from their own plan, which unsettled us a wee bit. They just took the hand brake off, they realised they might concede a point or two, they hoped they might get a goal
“We played well to weather it and we have some key men who are so safe in possession, they get it right all the time.”
Things got hot and heavy in the game at times and with underfoot conditions so treacherous Rasdale acknowledged he was happy to get everyone off in one piece
“With a game in a fortnight you’re always watching that. I think Leigh Jones was dicey enough with his hamstring towards the end, so I’m relieved about that.”
The main emotion was pride though, pride, not just in doing the double, but in the manner in which his team achieved it. A full squad effort filled with guts and character.
“I’m delighted,” said Rasdale. “Of all the titles, between championships, leagues and the lot, in many ways this is as sweet as any. You think back over the year, there were times where we really had to hold our nerve. We lost a few games, we had to really burrow deep into our panel. It’s a cliché, but I really can point to 35 fellas who’ve played a lot of football in this year’s league.
“We played 18 league games and there’s boys like Nathan Jones who could have played 12 of them. Colm Jones scored very heavily, I’m thinking of those lads who contributed so much over the course of the league so I’m really happy that this is genuinely a squad trophy. It’s really sweet because we could have easily lost it.”
Now the focus turns to Ulster and Rasdale was looking forward to the opportunity to running an eye over his provincial quarter-final opponents.
Posted: 7:56 pm October 12, 2019