posted 19 Nov 2017, 10:13 by Derrygonnelly Harps   [ updated 19 Nov 2017, 11:10 ]

Ulster Club Semi Replay: Harps 2-15 Cavan Gaels 5-7. 

So how could anyone possibly pull together their thoughts on a game like that?!?

The most gut wrenching defeat this club has suffered that I can remember. No game we’ve played in championship football has ever been like today against Cavan Gaels.

Every single Derrygonnelly Harps supporter is sick to the bottom of their boots after that. Sport is brilliant, it is the best release for people. But it can be very cruel.

Our fantastic set of footballers absolutely came out and took this replay by the throat. Front foot stuff, and brilliant football as well. Yet by half time we were 3-5 to 1-8 down despite owning the half 60-40!! We had placed ourselves 1-5 to 0-4 up, Wardy had a good sharp goal on twenty, Keebs had a lovely score, Deccy grabbed one, Wardy had one, Mickey and Gary McKenna were on the scoresheet. But the final five or so minutes were sobering stuff, Paul O’Connor on the end of two high balls for two goals, and Seanie Johnston plundering another. We were glad of two scores from Ryan Jones and Gary McKenna from play, to get back into it. A massive spell from them, but not terminal for us.

Moments into the second half, we’re 4-5 to 1-8 down and Peggy is being stretchered off (A bit of real life for us all there). But there would be no lying down from the Harps. Fair play to Gary McKenna, who nails two frees, to get us back in touch, that lad’s progression over the last few months has been top class. Then, an absolute screamer from Conall about the fifteen minute mark, 2-10 to 4-5! They have one on the counter, but the Harps are just flying all over the field, men possessed! Deccy drives up for a score, Wardy levels it on twenty minutes! Unreal! A few minutes of tight stuff, Conall drawing two and three men battering away at him, no free and Johnston grabs another, but there was time. Men laying it on the line everywhere. Eamo, one on one on the edge of the cliff with Martin Dunne driving at him, stalls him, takes her off him, and away we go out the field on the attack, Denis driving at it, Seanie Johnston doesn't know what to make of him. Up steps Keebs, our greatest son, thirty five yards out, slightly to the right, slices her between the uprights!! The greatest, what a role model. If you could clone what that fella has… Up the field they went, clean through, out comes big Jack, wide!!! Up we go, Ryan, the leader, never ducking the responsibility or the hard carry, with a monster, we’re one up!! Gerry Arthur Stand is about to be tossed if we take this. We turn them over, Wardy goes the length of the field, clips it over, no! Ref does him for the overcarry! Still, time to get reset. Up they go, some of their men had never even got back from the last counter attack they’d had. A free, high ball, dropping under the angle of crossbar and post, another loose ball, Barry Fortune, tap in, goal. Oh. My. God. Still no lyin down, free in to us, check with the ref, one more play after it, Gary points it. It’s 2-15 to 5-7, but they win the ball, and it’s a one point loss.

Where would you start? I was wondering on the way home, if you were a neutral at that game, what you’d have made of it. You’d say what a game, best team lost. There’s hope for Gaelic Football yet. There will not be a top level championship match this year better than that one for entertainment. What a contest. What a brilliant game. How you can have as much of a game as we did and not win it I just don’t know.

In fairness, Cavan Gaels won it because they fought til the end. From last week, they improved immensely on our kickout, and also on their own restarts. But jeez, they got every break in the world today.   

For us, nothing but admiration for a mighty set of fellas, every one of them. If you were at that match and had your kids with you, you’d have to say to them, that’s how to go about things: honest, brave, skilful, determined, strong, no lying down, no regrets. They are the pride of this parish, the absolute pride of us all.

I am at home now, and it’s dark outside, but the ball is thumping off the gable of the house, the ball keeps going all the time, there’s always the next game. We have been swimming with the big fishes this last few weeks, at Under 16 and senior, and we are a match for anyone. 

We lick our wounds for a short while, and we go again, no looking back, no stepping back. It’s a long way, but we can do it.