For Belnaleck boss, Gerry Flanagan, it was a case of so near yet so far as his side lost out in the Ulster Junior final to Naomh Colmcille of Donegal. 
A change of venue from Omagh to Derry’s Celtic Park did not help the cause for Belnaleck and nor did the loss of Lee Cullen, who was unable to start due to illness.
Cullen did join proceedings in the second half but his absence was felt by the Art McMurroughs, a point that Flanagan touched on after the game;
“Lee was a massive blow to us. He picked up a bug and just could not start the game. Not only did we lose Lee but we also had to rejig things elsewhere and it wasn’t ideal. 
“But the boys put in tremendous effort and no-one could fault that,” the former Leitrim star explained before adding;
“But to be fair to Naomh Colmcille they played very well and they were the better team on the night and deserved to win the title.”
In the end six points separated the sides although Belnaleck were two points to the good just after the break when Ciaran McBrien shot a great point from play. 
Crucially however the Fermanagh champions were to only score once more in the remainder of the game as they played into a stiff wind and driving rain;
“Conditions did make good football very hard to play,” Flannagan stated. “It wasn’t easy out there and we found it hard to get things going in the last 20 minutes but they had their homework done well on us and they were able to shut us out.”
The Belnaleck boss had seen Naomh Colmcille play in their semi final the previous weekend and while he was impressed with their win over Tattyreagh he felt they took their performance to another level when they crossed swords with his side in the final;
“They were almost like a different team to be honest. They really were excellent and you have to take your hat off to them. 
“We knew where they were strong and we were able to deal with them and give them plenty to think about for a long time in that game but in the end they put in a great showing in the last 20 minutes,” Flanagan explained.
It has been quite an adventure for the Art McMurroughs however as they became only the fourth Fermanagh football club to reach an Ulster final at senior level. This along with a league and championship double inside the county is evidence enough that 2017 will go down as a special year for the club.
“It has been a great year. There is no taking away from that. I told the players as much. I mean, playing in county final is something that some players never get to do and these lads got to play in an Ulster final as well and that is special and something that they will remember in years to come.”
The wounds might be quite raw at the moment but there is no reason why Belnaleck cannot build on their achievements of this season to progress and be a real competitive force at Intermediate level within the county next year.