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Harps blood running through the veins

Derrygonnelly’s wing half back, Oisin Smyth comes from a long line of Smyth footballers who’ve pulled on the purple and gold. In 1924, the founding year of the Harps club, Charlie Smyth, Oisin’s great grandfather played for the club. Then followed Oisin’s grandfather, Sean, who is current joint president along with Francie Rasdale.

From 1988 to 1996, Oisin’s father Niall donned the jersey and in 1995 he played at centre half back on Derrygonnelly’s first ever senior championship winning side. This weekend Oisin will follow in his father’s footsteps but this time on a bigger stage, the Ulster final and he too will wear the number 5 jersey with pride.

Three years ago, at the age of 18, Oisin made his championship debut, as a substitute, against Roslea in the 2018 quarter final. While he has three senior championships to his name, it really took until this season to nail down a starting position. A feat that he puts down to pre-season training.

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“Being a wee bit more prepared (was key). Obviously, at underage level I would’ve played quite a bit but the level of preparation is completely different to try to break into the (senior) team.

“Realising that I had to get myself into really good shape and be available for the team when the games are on during the league and stuff” has ensured Smyth is a regular on the team sheet now and has gained great experience and confidence.

“Starting games now and the more games I’ve started, the nerves have lessened and I’m a bit calmer and have learned how to use them to my advantage.

“The more you play in Ulster Club the more you understand it. I hadn’t played in Ulster Club at senior level but these few games have really helped me. As a team we know what level to expect. It’s very different to playing in your own county championship. In Ulster we tend to play freer and let the shackles off.”

Oisin is in his final year at university in Dundee and admits football is in the blood.
“You don’t really have a choice in my house when it comes to football” he laughs, “they throw the colours on you and out you go. As soon as I could walk really, dad had me out at the pitch, whether I was old enough to play with a team or not I don’t know, but I don’t think there was any choice in who I was playing for or what I was doing.”

The Smyth family live in Enniskillen, Brewster Park is closer to them than Canon Maguire Park but Oisin has never had any doubt about where his allegiance lies, recalling early memories at his grandparents’ house in Derrygonnelly;

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