posted 27 Aug 2017, 14:32 by Derrygonnelly Harps

Harps 2-8

Erne Gaels 2-6

Nobody would say it was a great game. But it was a great win.

The Harps produced a massive second half, and last fifteen minutes in particular to defeat a very gallant Erne Gaels group. It was a performance that showed the value of being battle hardened. The toughness, the leadership, and the know-how saw the lads home.

They were 1-4 to 0-3 down at half time, after a tense, tough half. What little fluent play there was from either side probably came from Erne Gaels, exemplified by their goal by Paul Ward, which put them 1-1 to 0-1 up. Ward made a good run, as the ball was worked through the right-centre of our defence and finished well. Harps’ Wardy and Ultan Kelm had exchanged points before that. Wardy added a free, before a quick two point burst from Tommy McCaffrey via a turnover, plus a Seamus Ryder free saw them 1-3 to 0-2 up. The Harps were grafting plenty everywhere, although frequently not really getting anywhere as Erne Gaels organised their defensive shield. Deccy Cass was getting through a Trojan amount of work in particular (How often Harps supporters must say that to each other about Deccy!), and he was involved in working a good ball across to Stephen McGullion for a point from play from the right wing in the 23rd minute. Mug was looking like a reasonable bet on the day. Brian Mullin had one from play to leave it 1-4 to 0-3. The Harps were competing, Erne Gaels were competing a wee bit better, but it was all to play for.

Straight away on the restart Mug was back! Ryan Jones caught the kickout and boomed a big one onto the big man. Stephen fetched, fell a wee bit, had the strength to get up, go past his man and slam home to the net! Great stuff! Tommy McCaffrey from a free put two in it again. Harps replied from a Wardy free after a fine fetch by the man Mug from the kickout. He popped it to Garvan Jones who worked it to sub Keeves, who was fouled, Wardy converted. However, the Belleek men worked a good goal in response. Lively half back Oisin Kelm made a massive run to get on the end of a ball from the left wing, he still had to step inside some challenges before a good low finish. As the Belleek supporters still celebrated, Garvan Jones pinged a good point from the right – an important score, we had to respond at that stage!

Five minutes later – Harps were level. Wardy stroked home a low peno to the stand in keeper Seamus Ryder’s left, having been fouled by his then black-carded brother Stephen. The move up to the penalty was a good bit of ball movement: another big Mug fetch in the middle, up the left and across the square via Deccy, Ryan, Garvan, Garry and then Wardy himself. One minute later a ball was won in the middle, worked up the right and Leigh Jones timed his run to slot over – 1 up! Seamus Ryder jogged up to convert a free to level. But the Harps took it by the throat in extra time, Ryan Jones in particular. Wardy won and scored a free, then ultimate warrior Deccy had a shot on target for two up. But still there was time for one last bit of ping pong in our square. The last throw of the dice literally ricocheted off Ronan Cox and shaved the outside of our post! Unreal! Up the field. Harps win!

A win which revealed a lot about the mindset of the group. Showed the tenacity in the first half: dogged determination when things were just going middlin. Second half upped it. Showed the know how, then the ability to seize it when it was there to be seized. Very admirable. A number of fine performances: it would be very hard to separate big Mug and Mickey Jones in MoM terms. Mug had a massive game for the Harps, and Mickey defended supremely, had one great fetch, and a great carry too among other moments. Wardy’s accuracy and working was great, while Ryan increased his grip and influence on the game and was pivotal in the final quarter in particular. All credit to management for a number of very effective substitutions as well. 

For Erne Gaels, they will look at the improvements made to their defence since last year, and can see that they have worked in the form of the Kelms and Shane Mimna in particular. But on the day, the front eight just didn’t perform as they would have liked.Yet on another day, they could have scored that goal at the end and it would have been a different story. It is well known what an effort they made to prepare for this one, and they can only say to themselves that the memories of losses like that one can steel them for next time. They’re obviously very close.

It was noticeable after the game, that while Harps supporters went pretty mad, the team warmed down and went off the pitch calmly. Rightly so. As great as the win was, there was no trophy under the table in the changing room afterwards. The Harps had a massive win against Roslea in 2012 in Brewster Park, celebrated on the pitch like they had been let out of a cage, and got stuffed out the gate by Tempo next round. The mentality was better after the win today. Semi final next.