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Lilly looks back on successful days 

When 31 year old Mickey Lilly raised aloft the New York Cup in 2006, he didn’t anticipate it would take 15 long years before Enniskillen Gaels would be back in a Senior Championship final.

The memories of the ‘Monday club’ in Charlies Bar celebrating championship successes have faded. A new team has been born and they have the chance to write their names in the history books if they can overcome Derrygonnelly, the championship heavyweights of the last decade.

Mickey Lilly won six county championship medals with the Gaels, his first in 1999, having missed out on the 1998 win because he was away from home at the time. For Lilly, ‘99 was the start of his five-in-a-row, then in 2004 the Harps brought their journey to an abrupt halt. A defeat that lingers in his memory.

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“You expected to win and I don’t mean that with any disrespect to the teams we played but because we were strong, we expected to win. In 2004 when Derrygonnelly did beat us, it was nearly inconceivable, every time you went out to play, you expected to win, especially in the championship.

“It wasn’t an arrogance, it was a confidence in the team. You just didn’t expect to get beaten because we had such a good squad of players.”

The team of the late ‘90s and noughties was littered with talent, experienced players like Paul Brewster, Tom Brewster, young guns like Ronan McCabe, Colm Bradley and Ryan McCluskey to name but a few and Lilly was establishing himself as a dogged man marker, with the skill and tenacity to work the ball out of defence ensuring he had nailed down his place on the county team too.

There were many successful days in the yellow and blue, in a career that spanned 22 years, from making his senior debut as a fresh faced 16 year old under Jim Tummons to being appointed captain in championship winning years 2003 by Liam Donnelly and again by Simon Bradley in 2006. By his own admission, the 46 year old says “I’m not a talker” and to this day is not sure why Donnelly and Bradley entrusted him with the captaincy those years.

 

To read more on this story see this week’s Fermanagh Herald. Can’t get to the shop to collect your copy? No problem! You can download a copy straight to your device by following this link https://bit.ly/3gOl8G0

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA