Rasdale's relief after epic win over champions
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Brendan Rasdale celebrates the Harps' dramatic late win.<<
It could not have been more dramatic. Having led from the start, Derrygonnelly watched their lead slip away as Roslea hit the front for the first time deep in added on time at the end of the contest. But then Paul Ward was upended close to goal with referee Martin Higgins signalling for a penalty and with the very last kick of the game Johnny McGurn drilled his shot to the corner of the net to send the Harps into the quarter-finals of the Target Express Fermanagh SFC as they ended Roslea's reign as champions.
It was an emotional roller-coaster for Derrygonnelly joint manager Brendan Rasdale who was relieved to see the side back winning championship matches having not won one since they defeated the same opposition in the 2009 championship final.
"After the game I was very emotional, simply because of the nature of the game and the fact that it was very dramatic. There was a real sense of relief as well because if we hadn't won it would have been three years in a row that we would have been knocked out in the first round," said Rasdale.
Rasdale was also pleased with the character shown by his side.
"I thought we played well in the first half and then in the second half we showed good character. They boys held their nerve and showed good heart which was very pleasing," he commented.
However, the joint manager is very aware that no medals are handed out after winning one game and he states that the focus will now switch to the league before they even consider their meeting with Tempo in the quarter-finals.
"It's only one win, nothing more, nothing less. All it has done has put us into the quarter-finals," said Rasdale. "To be honest we have three league games now coming up and we have to get points in those games. The league is your bread and butter and we're not even going to worry about Tempo until after these games."
Lisnaskea secured their place in the final with a two point win over Devenish at Brewtsre Park on Sunday and Mark Henry's side can now look forward to a derby clash with Newtownbutler in the last eight.
Lisnaskea had looked comfortable for the majority of the first half but when Devenish struck for goals late in the first half and again early in the second half it helped the Garrison men take the lead. However, Lisnaskea dug deep and in the end deserved their progress into the quarters.
"We would be very pleased to get over this one," said Henry.
"Lisnaskea have found Devenish very difficult opponents in recent years so we're delighted to get over that hoodoo. Devenish refused to buckle and they got their noses in front in the second half and we had to work really hard to win the game. What was really pleasing was that we were able to respond to any set backs we suffered in the game."
With holders Roslea now out, there is a very open look to the championship and a number of teams will be eyeing up the New York Cup. However, Henry stresses that Lisnaskea will focus solely on their quarter-final against Newtown.
"Nobody at Lisnaskea is in a position to look ahead in the championship. We will only be looking at the Newtown game and try and prepare for it as well as we can. I've no doubt that with it being a derby game it will be a very attractive tie for the people of Newtown and Lisnaskea, as well as for neutrals, and the fact that it is a derby makes it a more difficult game. Our aim though will be to try and produce a performance and show the same character that we showed against Devenish," he said.
Newtown survived a scare against Division Two side Irvinestown on Saturday evening in Tempo with First Fermanaghs manager Mickey Fox admitting that they were not at their best on the night.
"It was a relief to have come through and they certainly gave us a fright. Having said that, we didn't play that well although we did manage to get things turned around in the second half. The important thing though was winning, it doesn't matter how you play as long as you win the game," said Fox.
And he was full of praise for midfielder Ryan Carson who produced a man of the match performance.
"Carson was very good throughout the game, he is a very good footballer and very hard to stop when he is on his game. I also felt that when James Connolly came on he really helped to change things for us."
Newtown should be a stronger proposition for the quarter-final meeting with neighbours Lisnaskea with Clive Fitzpatrick, Shane Leonard and Eugene Maguire all coming back from suspension although Fox believes that Lisnaskea will be favourites.
"I would say, with Roslea now out, Lisnaskea are favourites to win the championship but we'll plan for them and we intend to go further in the championship," he added.
On Friday night Tempo booked their place in the last eight, and while they deserved the win, manager John McElroy admits they made harder work of it than they should have.
Tempo had been cruising in the first half but sloppy defending allowed Belcoo in for a goal and it was not until late in the game that the Maguires finally put the game to bed.
"We had to win it twice," said McElroy. "We had it won and let it slip and then had to go and win it again and that is something we can't afford to be doing. We also can't be conceding the goals that we are conceded."
Daryl Keenan's free taking was faultless for Tempo, something which pleased McElroy.
"He hasn't put them on the ground and hit them in a long time and that was good to see. The next day though you might not get as many frees in scoring range," he added.
And McElroy expects a tough test for his side when they come up against Roslea's conquerors Derrygonnelly for a place in the last four.
"Down through the years Derrygonnelly have always been tough opponents and we have always found them hard to put away but there is always a first time," said McElroy.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 02 Aug 12