Enniskillen Gaels manager Brendan Dooris felt that the hard yards put in over recent months reaped their reward on Monday afternoon as his side claimed the Ulster Minor Tournament title.
The previous two years at the tournament showed the Gaels that they needed to be fitter and more physical if they were to compete with the best in Ulster and Dooris states that the players didn’t shirk the work in the gym or outdoors on cold wet nights in pursuit of the success they enjoyed on New Year’s Day.
“I have nothing but good things to say about these lads. We’ve been at this since last January, in fact we have been at it for three years trying to build what we wanted to build, and they have put in a lot of hard work, particularly over the winter months in horrible conditions. We had them running round car parks because we couldn’t get a pitch to play on, they were running 5ks just to get that fitness level that you could see here today. They also did a lot of work in the gym to meet the physical requirements needed for the tournament. I thought our physicality, our tackling, our running was just superb today. 
“The amount of turnovers and times we dispossessed them was down to the work that they have done but you also have to have something inside you, you must want it and these boys do,” he added.
On a day when conditions meant quality football was at a premium, the Gaels work rate in the middle third was crucial as they wore down Ballinascreen although in the end it was a well worked move that saw the key score of the game arrive seven minutes before half time. Up to that, Enniskillen had struggled to settle into the game but when they edged in front through Conor Love’s goal they were able to stay ahead to the finish.
“We didn’t start that well and to be honest I would have taken going in at half time two points down but the goal was a massive score and it was a fantastic move and a fantastic finish. It was a pretty ugly game if I’m being honest and our goal was probably the best bit of football in the whole game,” said Dooris.
Enniskillen went in at the break with a 1-02 to 0-03 lead and they added to that in the second half as they moved four clear with just over ten minutes left. Dooris admits though that they then dropped too deep and invited Ballinascreen on to them.
“It is difficult when you have a lead, you keep saying to push on and don’t drop back but subconsciously you keep doing it, you try to protect that lead. They put us under a lot of pressure, they never gave up and they kept going and going hoping to get a goal; but I felt we held our ground really well and managed to dispossess them time after time and broke away.”
With the gap back to two though Conor Love popped up with a crucial point.
“It was a superb point at an important time and I thought he could also have had a penalty but sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t. Thankfully though we were able to see the game out. I’m immensely proud of the boys,” he added.
Dooris also praised the support the team got on the day. “I was overwhelmed by the support from the club. The support in general was brilliant, there was a couple of buses and a lot of people made their own way up and it is great to see that support,” commented Dooris.
Having played in an Enniskillen side that lost an Ulster Club Senior Final, Dooris is also delighted to have now been involved with a side that have won an Ulster title.
“It will be nice now that people can ask me about what it’s like to win an Ulster final because I got fed up with people asking what it’s like to lose one. It’s nice to be involved in winning an Ulster title,” he laughed. And he is hoping that this will be the platform for the senior team to now push on.
“It’s a start for the club and hopefully we can now come out of the doldrums. We are in Division Two but hopefully we can push on and get back to where we think we should be,” he concluded.