Brendan Rasdale has been heavily involved in coaching and management at his home club Derrygonnelly Harps as well as at St. Michael’s College. Here he reflects some of the more memorable encounters.

St Michael’s

Taking school teams, especially juniors, you can end up standing on the sidelines at some brilliant contests in the middle of nowhere with barely a sinner at them.

We lost two absolutely classic Corn na nOg semi finals in 2003 and 2005, both against St Patrick’s Maghera.

The first group was Chris Snow, Lee McQuade, Pat Grue, that group of fellas. The second was Mattie Donnelly, Tomás Corrigan, Ryan Jones and Chris O’Brien’s group. Both went to extra time, and whilst I had no regrets about the first, I would be quite critical of a few moves I made in the 2005 semi.

Those games are still very clear in my mind though for drama and brilliant effort.

I also remember us winning a group qualifier in 2008 against St Pius Magherafelt with a late breakaway goal by Niall ‘Skinner’ Maguire from St. Joseph’s.

We had moved Ryan Hyde to full back to contain Ryan ‘Sucky’ Bell, who plays for Derry now. The bus was bouncing on the way home, the boys were just delighted, a one point win I will always remember.

Schools’ football can throw up games like that.

Derrygonnelly Harps

I know a coach shouldn’t be getting carried away about an Under 10 game, but I was involved with a group of our lads in a final blitz game against Kinawley in 2017 and they were good, had a great lad Dara Cathcart, and one or two others, but we were just on the money for pure skills that day and won a very good entertaining game against them.

I felt we had prepared very well for that and the cubs just delivered a great spectacle, both teams.

The 2004 SFC win over the Gaels was important for our club, or we might have lost the momentum gained from the 1995 thing. The Gaels were massive favourites and if I’m honest, they kicked themselves out of it.

But we hung in when we needed to and then just had a great spell, scoring 1-04 to maybe a point. Sticks, Kevin Cassidy, Jonny McGurn and Aidy Gallagher just went at them that day.

However, it’s probably obvious enough that my standout game would be our Ulster SFC game against Trillick in 2019.

They are an immense group, and we were on the edge once or twice, but showed massive mental strength and ability to get the draw, and then the historic penalty shootout will never be forgotten.

It was one of those games that so many neutrals either messaged me after, or would talk about when you meet them out and about. I suppose I was privileged to be part of that.