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Derrygonnelly celebrate clinching their fifth successive county title.

Harps seeking first Ulster scalp on the road

Ulster Club SFC quarter-final
Cargin v Derrygonnelly
Sunday, Corrigan Park, Belfast 2.30pm
Ref: Paul Faloon 
 
For the past five years Derrygonnelly have emerged from Fermanagh winning County titles with ruthless efficiency.
The test this Sunday for the Erne kingpins is to press on in the Ulster club championship with the lure of a clash against Trillick in a Brewster Park showdown if they can come through their duel with Cargin.
The Antrim champions will be a huge hurdle. The Toome based club came through an county final replay against Lámh Dhearg only last Saturday with extra time needed to separate the two sides before Cargin pulled clear to win 3-16 to 0-23 in a thriller at Corrigan Park.
The Derrygonnelly management team will have surveyed the Antrim Final and believe they have the defensive nous, ruggedness and the attacking tools required to engineer victory.
The in-form Conall Jones is a lethal full forwards and if Derrygonnelly can deliver sufficient ball he is capable of really making hay.
Derrygonnelly have been a well oiled machine in Fermanagh club championship football since Teemore shocked them back in 2014. Since then it’s been seamless success for Derrygonnelly with a five-in-a-row of titles, three with Martin Greene and Michael Glynn, before Sean Flanagan and Brendan Rasdale took charge for the two most recent triumphs.
Derrygonnelly’s running game has been a key strength in the past number of seasons, and it will be interesting to see how Cargin cope when players like Shane McGullion, Ryan Jones and Michael Jones put on the afterburners.
That said, Cargin won’t lack for confidence against a Derrygonnelly side playing at Corrigan Park for the first time ever on Sunday. They will look to cut the supply off to Conall Jones and match the Fermanagh side’s physicality in the middle third.
Kevin O’Boyle is likely given the role of man-marking Conall Jones and will be helped in this task by Justin Crozier.
Cargin will also look for a big performance from Michael McCann in the middle of the park. If he can win possession and get his superb kicking game going he can feed the Saffrons dangerous inside forwards with quality ball.
It’ll be interesting to see how Derrygonnelly decide to match up against Michael McCann, but Ryan Jones would be an obvious choice.
If Jones can dominate the middle third like he has done in the Fermanagh then its advantage Derrygonnelly.
Former Derry and Bellaghy star Damien Cassidy is over Cargin and will feel that its’ time this team pushed on in Ulster.
Sunday is set to be an intriguing game between two similar sides, with experienced squads sprinkled with some exciting young players. Both managers have big calls to make in terms of match-ups and tactics.
Neither side has a great record in Ulster, Derrygonnelly with just the one win in four years, defeats in the first round to Slaughtneil (twice) and Scotstown, but a win in 2017 against Armagh Harps.
Cargin have won Antrim titles in 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019, with Lámh Dhearg breaking the run in 2017. Cargin were unlucky in last year’s Ulster Club competition going down to eventual winners Gaoth Dobhair in Corrigan Park, 3-11 to 1-13 in the first round. 2015 Crossmaglen Rangers got the better of them, while 2016 seen Killyclogher of Tyrone coming out on top.
It’s no secret Cargin have no major love for the Antrim county set-up, a number of the more high profile players such as Kevin O’Boyle, Tomas McCann and John McCarron all declining Saffron call-ups while no County board representative was on hand last month to present the SFL Division 1 title after they secured the league last Thursday night.
Derrygonnelly will come into the game on a bit of a high after securing the Division 1 league title against Ederney a fortnight ago and they will be looking to put down a marker for Fermanagh football.
In addition Cargin are likely to still be feeling the effects of a physically and emotionally draining contest against Lámh Dhearg while Derrygonnelly enjoyed the luxury of an extra weekend off.
It will be tense, but we have a sneaking feeling that Derrygonnelly can claim a first ever away Ulster Club success.
Prediction: Derrygonnelly
 
ROUTES TO WINNING COUNTY TITLES
Fermanagh
Quarter-final
Derrygonnelly 0-13 Devenish 0-6
 
Semi-final
Derrygonnelly 0-8 Belnaleck 0-8
Derrygonnelly 2-9 Belnaleck 1-6 (Replay)
 
Final
Derrygonnelly 0-10 Roslea 1-3
 
Antrim
Quarter Final
Cargin 1-14 O’Donovan Rossa 0-12
 
Semi Final
Cargin 2-10 St Galls 1-8
 
Final
Cargin 1-10 Lámh Dhearg 0-13
Cargin 3-16 Lámh Dhearg 0-23 (Replay AET)
 
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