It is one that got away, an Ulster final spot was there to be grasped before slipping away against Kilcoo on Sunday in the Athletic Grounds and Derrygonnelly joint manager Sean Flanagan admits that it is hard to see past the disappointment at this stage.

“It would be disingenuous to say anything other than we are gutted to lose a game like that. We know that the game was there for us, we know that there was lots of aspects of our performance that were really worthy of the win but things just didn’t work out on the day in a couple of key moments and tough as it is you have to accept that,” he said.

This run in Ulster did show that the Harps are comfortable at this level in the province but that did not take away from the disappointment of not getting to the final.

“It absolutely did but Ulster is now a long way away again and you have to win three or four games just to get out of Fermanagh.

“Probably we would be more disappointed because the competition in Ulster had just opened up well and there was a chance for us to get to that final and if we had got there we would have had a good shot at it,” he commented.

Derrygonnelly looked to be in a strong position in the tie after they banged over three points in a row early in the second half to level up proceedings but Kilcoo hit back with the only goal of the game and that score was vital for the Down men.

“We had a very positive start to the game and we had a really strong start to the second half but the goal against an experienced team was always going to be critical because they were always going to be able to nick one score for every three of ours just to keep us at arms length and that’s how it turned out.

“You would have to praise their efficiency in the second half. Even though they were under the cosh they did enough to get the win,” said Flanagan.

He could find nothing but praise though for his charges.

“Anybody who was at the game, you couldn’t not admire a lot of what Derrygonnelly brought to that game. There was good control, there was commitment, effort and character and while I’m disappointed, I could not but offer every praise for our fellas for the way they went about that game, it just didn’t work out.”

Derrygonnelly went into the season without two key forwards, Garry McKenna (injury) and Leigh Jones (work) and then suffered a huge blow when they lost the experienced Paul Ward towards the end of the league to injury. To have progressed as well as they did then shows the strength of their squad.

“Those are great players, Paul made a great contribution around the group and Garry came back in and was coming back nicely but it just shows that we have plenty in our squad and we would gain heart from the fact that we did as well as we did this year while we were adapting to a changed set of circumstances. Every year you have to have people competing for places and we had fellas who came in this year and did very well in those circumstances,” stated Flanagan.

Indeed, when they look back, the Harps will be able to reflect on another successful year that included a league and championship double.

“The fact that we were able to back that championship up with a league was great. To win a championship with 21 or 22 players is one thing but to win the league it is the 28 to 30 fellas who dig that out and I was really happy that the fullest possible group of fellas got rewarded with that league title. I thought in many ways the league reflects on the grit and the quality within the group.

“We are down now but in a while we will be able to appreciate it for what it was.”

And then it will be time to look forward to 2020 and Flanagan feels that the club are in a good position moving forward.

“Everybody will start out next year with a new set of hopes and you don’t know what can happen, six months is a long time, but we are in good shape and we have plenty to offer going forward,” he said.