Enniskillen Gaels 2-11

Derrygonnelly Harps 1-11

Enniskillen Gaels made it back to back U17 Championship titles with a hard fought but deserved three point victory over Derrygonnelly Harps at Brewster Park on Sunday.

This was a thrilling and entertaining final with the Gaels withstanding a late period of pressure from the Harps who went in search of a goal to hold on for the win.

The first half saw Enniskillen put the concession of an early penalty converted by Micheál Glynn behind them to play some fine football and a late burst that included an Oliver Hughes Jordan goal had them five points to the good at the break.

Derrygonnelly did close that gap back to two points by the midway stage of the second half but Shay Conway then landed the decisive blow as he bagged a second goal for Enniskillen to push them six clear with nine minutes left on the clock.

In fairness, Derrygonnelly did continue to battle and they rattled off three points in a row but they could not find the goal they required as Enniskillen saw out the five minutes of added on time to secure the victory.

Enniskillen manager Kevin Lavelle was proud of his side’s performance on Sunday.

“I couldn’t be prouder of them and I’m delighted with the effort and hard work that they have put in all year.

“I think that Sunday was the first time all year that we had a full squad to pick from and even then Ryan McDonell was 50/50 with injury but he was determined to play.

“Look, Derrygonnelly are a very good side and we have had some great battles over the years but I felt that we deserved the win on this occasion. It was a really good all round team performance and everybody emptied the tank. Our young lads like Ross Bogue really stood up,” he said.

Having defeated Enniskillen twice in the league and having also recorded a comfortable victory over the same opposition in the league final, Derrygonnelly entered the final as favourites. However, the Gaels were able to welcome back a number of key players who had missed that league final including Conor Murphy who went on to have a big impact on Sunday in the middle of the park for his side.

Enniskillen were quickly off the mark in the contest as the lively Codi Halligan knocked over after a good ball from Dylan Kerrigan.

The Harps though responded with the first goal of the game as Glynn slotted home from the penalty spot after Josh Horan was adjudged to have fouled Eoin Magee, and Glynn then followed up with a fine point after cutting in from the right to make it 1-01 to 0-01 to Derrygonnelly in the 12th minute.

Enniskillen though were beginning to get on top and Ross Bogue rifled over a point before James O’Donnell hit a brace with two good efforts from play to level up proceedings by the 18th minute.

Derrygonnelly edged back ahead through a Glynn free but the Gaels replied with a James O’Donnell free and a second Halligan point from play to get their noses in front.

Again Derrygonnelly managed to answer as Aaron Skuce was found in space and the defender showed good composure to fire over the bar to leave it 1-03 to 0-06 in the 28th minute.

It was Enniskillen though who finished the half the stronger of the sides as Conway fired over a lovely point from the left hand side to put his side a point to the good before they then swooped for a goal.

Conway picked up the breaking ball from the subsequent kick out and fed Hughes Jordan who powered forward before planting his shot into the back of the net.

With Bogue then adding a further point it left Enniskillen with a 1-08 to 1-03 half time lead.

Derrygonnelly started the second half on the front foot with Magee knocking over from play and Glynn firing over a free but Enniskillen answered with a point from Caoilte Hamill before they then had a chance to net a second goal as O’Donnell was slipped through on goal but his effort was saved by goalkeeper Jarlath Flanagan before Hamill fired wide from the follow up.

An O’Donnell point soon after though restored Enniskillen’s five point lead but back again came Derrygonnelly and Glynn and the hard working Conor Burns added points from play before Glynn then slotted over a free to reduced the deficit back to two.

At this point the momentum appeared to be with Derrygonnelly but Enniskillen always carried that threat in attack and O’Donnell brought to an end a 14 minute spell without a score to put the Gaels three ahead before Conway struck for their second goal in the 51st minute.

Hughes Jordan did well on the left to play the ball into the advancing Conway and he pushed the ball around goalkeeper Flanagan before tucking it into the empty net to push the advantage out to six.

The closing stages saw Derrygonnelly pile forward and Glynn tapped over a free and Burns fired over another two from play to bring them back to within three points.

There was some nervous moments in the latter stages for the Gaels, who lost Kerrigan to a red card after he clashed with Glynn. It was backs to the wall after this with the ball bouncing around the Enniskillen goal mouth but they managed to clear their lines as referee James Hoey called an end to a pulsating decider.

For Enniskillen, they will now focus on the Ulster Minor Club. The U17 winners from last year will represent Fermanagh at the prestigious tournament.