By Martin McBrien
With four successive Fermanagh Intermediate triumphs, culminating in the coveted Ulster crown, Kinawley now have their sights set on the provincial senior trail.
However, they first have to win Fermanagh honours by overcoming the formidable hurdle presented by familiar opponents, Derrygonnelly.
The Harps’ opening round demolition of Enniskillen means that this Saturday’s clash will merely act as a prelude to the county final because it’s very much expected that the Brian Boru’s ladies will similarly dismiss the Gaels challenge.
But new Kinawley manager, Mark Cunningham, is taking no chances, saying;
“We are looking forward to the Derrygonnelly and Enniskillen matches and will take each game as it comes week by week”, adding;
“I think the fixtures schedule has been a source of frustration for all clubs and it has been disappointing to have only played one league game all summer”.
Both Kinawley and Derrygonnelly will obviously be keen to put down a significant marker so their game certainly won’t be lacking in intensity, with what could prove to be vital league points at stake as well.
They will be well aware of each other’s calibre, Derrygonnelly having pushed Kinawley to the very limit in both ’20 and ‘21 championship deciders with extra time needed last year.
This time around though, Kinawley will be lacking the services of some key figures, most notably, scoring powerhouse, Joanne Doonan.
On the plus side they will be able to welcome back from ‘down under’ the dynamic Maguire sisters, Danielle and Lisa.
Cunninghan is keen to put the changes into context, pointing out;
“To an extent, it’s a different Kinawley team as we have lost some girls to Australia and America for the summer, like a lot of other clubs, I’m sure. On the flipside, we have a number of older girls returning who weren’t involved over the last number of years.
“I can’t say if those departures or returnees will balance each other out or otherwise, especially given the lack of competitive football, but we have worked hard on our game and I’ve seen some early promising signs.
“It’s a new season and the girls should be looking forward to the football ahead and take the chance to express themselves.”
He is fully aware too that last year’s success has set the bar high for his charges, declaring;
“The girls are coming off the back of a very successful year having won the Ulster title but they have put a line in the sand, they are very focused on where they want to go and they work extremely hard at that every single day.
“If I’m being honest, it doesn’t take a lot of pushing from me, there’s a lot of character in the team.
“They are a really vibrant group, extremely keen to learn and that’s been the biggest thing, that positive energy”.
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