It has been 17 years since Derrygonnelly and Enniskillen last crossed swords in the championship, that day being a memorable one for the Harps as they secured only their second New York Cup by taking down a Gaels side that were seeking a seventh successive title.

And since then there is no doubt that the clubs’ fortunes have gone in opposite directions with this Sunday’s game in many ways the reversal of that final in 2004.

Derrygonnelly have been the side leading the way, especially in recent times as they rattled off five championships in a row to became the kingpins of Fermanagh football before losing last year’s decider to Ederney.

A hunger and desire to get back to the top though has driven them on this year as they have twice had to come through replays – against Ederney and Kinawley – to put them one game away from regaining the New York Cup.

In comparison, the past 15 years or so have been lean for Enniskillen.

They did win the championship in 2006, but it was the dying kick from that great six in a row team, and in the years after that they flirted on a couple of occasions with the drop to the Junior Championship before making the return to Senior Championship this year after winning last year’s Intermediate.

This is a youthful Enniskillen side, backboned by their Ulster Minor Club winning side in the shape of the likes of Johnny Cassidy, Eoin Beacom, Brandon Horan, Conor Love and Callum Jones, alongside the more experienced Richie O’Callaghan.

A lot has been made of this being a young Gaels outfit and while they do lack Championship experience, there is no doubt about the talent in the group and they have been competing at the top end of Division One in recent years, including reaching the final this year.

That final ended in defeat to Derrygonnnelly, who won comfortably on the day, and the key for the Gaels will be to learn the lessons from that game.

They struggled throughout that clash to make any impression against a well drilled Harps defence, while Derrygonnelly also had the better of things in the middle third early on as they controlled the play to build up an advantage that they never looked like relinquishing.

Enniskillen did see plenty of the ball in the second half but it was all too passive and that is something they must address ahead of Sunday.

They bounced back from that loss though and are in the final on merit after seeing off Tempo and Belnaleck with two hard-fought wins, although they will be well aware that Derrygonnelly are going to be another step up on Sunday.


This is a Harps side who are laced with championship experience and know-how with the likes of Michael Jones, Eamon McHugh, Ryan Jones, Conall Jones, Declan Cassidy and Garvan Jones all having multiple chtampionship winner’s medals in their back pockets.

And they they have also blooded a number of younger players around these more experienced performers over the last couple of years and their strength in depth from the bench has been key for them this year.

They are physically strong, especially in the middle third, and defensively they cough up very little, as Enniskillen found out in the league final.

While up front they may not have a marquee forward as such, but they have players who consistently chip in with scores from all over the pitch with different people stepping up on different days.

The heavier pitch will also favour the Harps in terms of their greater physicality.

One issue they have had in the championship though is that while they have made good starts to all their games, at times they have not put teams away when they have been on top, while they have also lacked a clinical edge in terms of finding the net and that is something that the players and management will have worked on ahead of Sunday.

However, unlike when the sides last met in the championship in 2004, Derrygonnelly come in this time around as strong favourites, but like the Harps 17 years ago, the Gaels will be hoping to spring a surprise.

To achieve that then, a lot of things are going to have to go right for them. They are going to have to get a platform around the middle of the park – and they do have the players to do this – and figure a way to break down the Derrygonnelly rearguard.

And if they can do this, they do have players who are capable of taking scores – Enniskillen were the top scorers in the league this year.

Given the time of year and a heavy surface, this is unlikely to be a high-scoring affair and goals will be massive scores for whoever can get them.

An intriguing contest is expected at Brewster Park.

Can Enniskillen bring that underage success to fruition at Senior level, or can Derrygonnelly make it six titles in seven years and return to the top?

Will it be the young pretenders’ day or will the old dogs for the hard road prevail?

All will be answered on Sunday.