Driving nails, driving runs and dogged defending

QUIETLY he goes about the job in hand, on and off the field but Eamon McHugh is a key man in the heart of this Derrygonnelly team. The 33 year old joiner, by his own admission, won’t be the one you hear shouting and roaring but he’s as determined as anyone on the team to get over the line this weekend, against the Armagh champions Clann Éireann.

Every team has one man that excels when handed the job of man-marking, well for Derrygonnelly, that man is McHugh. In the Fermanagh Championship he was tasked with keeping tabs on Declan McCusker in the Ederney game, against Kinawley he picked up Ruaírí Corrigan, in the final he was tasked with handling Jonny Cassidy and in the first round of the Ulster Club against Dromore he kept All Star and Tyrone All Ireland winner, Niall Sludden, scoreless.

Picking up the main men on the opposition’s side is not something that fazes the Boho man.


“Those are the games you want to play in, you want to test yourself against the best players and I was happy enough with the way it (Dromore game) ended up anyway.

“You try and get a look at the player and see if there’s anything you can figure out.

“I was happy enough to be able to keep them (Corrigan and Sludden) scoreless and they’re not that easy marked! You saw even in the first Kinawley game, Ruaírí did a bit of damage and we were happy to get a second day to right it, thankfully I was up to the task I suppose.”

Indeed, when he looks back on his man-marking jobs over the years, he recalls some of his toughest opponents.

“Pete Harte, Ryan McHugh and Sludden are up there but Pete Harte I would say gave me the most bother.”

This Saturday, McHugh is likely to be tasked with picking up Armagh county player and Clann Éireann sharpshooter Conor Turbitt. It’s the fifth Ulster Club campaign of his career, having played his first back in 2009 against Derry champions, Loup, in which they were beaten 1-10 to 1-06. He missed out on the 2016 run due to a knee injury but played in 2015, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19.

The furthest Derrygonnelly has ever got in the competition is the semi final stage and the wing half forward, knows this is a chance to go one better.


“It’s another good opportunity, they don’t come around too often and you have to grab them when they come.

McHugh, turns 34 next year and has a real sense of the opportunity that the Clann Éireann game presents to both the club and himself.

“It’s going to get harder and harder as the years go on,” he says, “and you definitely have to try and make it count when you’re in your peak.”

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