Derrygonnelly Harps are sitting pretty once again at the summit of Fermanagh club football and few could argue with the fact that they are the best team in the county.

With a draw in the quarter-final and another in the semi-final, they certainly didn’t have a straightforward route to the final, but when they got within touching distance of the New York Cup they were at their clinical experienced best.

Before talking about the game itself, a word on Aaron and Leigh Jones.

Earlier this year they lost their father, Peter. I had the pleasure of working with Peter in Tracey Concrete many moons ago, and crossed swords with him on the field in championship and league clashes with Derrygonnelly.

Fair and fierce, his competitiveness on the pitch was matched only by his good nature and genuineness off the pitch. I had the pleasure of coaching Aaron this year with the U-20s and he shares those traits, and along with that is one of the finest young defenders in the county.

Leigh, Aaron, the Jones family and, indeed, the whole Harps club have mourned Peter’s passing with a dignity that would have made the man himself proud.

He also would have been proud of both his sons on Sunday, who went about their business in an unassuming yet efficient and highly-effective manner, as they always do.

The GAA is about much more than sport. It is, at its heart, about family and community. Rest easy, Peter.

To the game itself. The Gaels man inside me felt for the young team in blue and yellow at the final whistle.

It was a match that got away from them in a few moments and proved that at the cutting-edge of Senior Championship action, work-rate, desire and hunger are sometimes not enough.

A few more ingredients are needed too.

In the first half I felt the Gaels had executed their defensive game plan very well.

In the league final between the two sides, Derrygonnelly’s runners from deep had continually breached the defence and this was an obvious area that had been worked on by the Gaels management.

Runners were tracked, while at the same time there was a huge intensity on display by the Gaels, who many predicted would be bullied around the middle third. That did not happen.

When you analyse the first half, there was very little between the two sides and it can be plausibly argued that Enniskillen produced the better and more clear-cut point-scoring opportunities.

Wides, posts and turned-down shots on weaker foots saw at least four good chances not taken.

At the other end, Ryan Jones landed two glorious scores and these were the difference between the sides at the break.

That is the harsh reality of Senior Championship football.

Enniskillen had dealt with a heavy aerial bombardment and they were winning personal battles in defence, but they went in two down.

The penalty early in the second half was the killing of the game, in retrospect.

Was it a penalty? I’ve seen them given and I’ve seen them not given. But put it like this – the Derrygonnelly management would not have been happy to see it at the other end. Sean Fla would have been apoplectic.

That is not to say that I think Barry Monaghan’s decision altered the course of the game.

It simply brought it to a state of inevitability somewhat earlier.

Pepper is one of the top referees in the county, and it would be folly for the Gaels players to try to explain away the defeat on one decision. To be fair, I don’t think they will.

The harsh reality is that only Ederney have had the measure of Derrygonnelly over the past seven seasons and they have only beat them once in Championship.

The Harps win on Sunday showed that they are back out in front and the rest are trying to close the gap.

The Gaels are closer than most to doing that, despite the result.

And that brings me to the penultimate point of this column.

On Friday night last, I tipped into the Gaels clubhouse for their up-for-the-match event.

Chatting ensued, as it does, and I was struck that many people were drawing comparisons between today’s Enniskillen and that of the team that won six in a row.

1998 started that run of wins and on the day, there were five Minors starting. That was exceptional.

However, what many people forget is that there was a healthy dose of real experience in that side.

Brendan Dooris in goals, Raymie Curran at full back, Mickey Farry at centre half, Paul Brewster in the middle and Gerry McDermott, Pio Fitzpatrick and Simon Bradley floating around attack. Tom Brewster was still considered a young buck, at 21.

The following year, Ollie McShea, Mickey Lilly and Neil Cox returned to add more experience to the mix.

The truth is that there would have been no six in a row without the Minor influx, but there would have been no-one in a row without the experience that was already there.

This Gaels team does not have the same depth of experience and comparisons with teams of the past and, indeed, players from the past should cease.

They need to take their own path, and I would argue it is more difficult than the path trod 20-odd years ago.

I still expect the path to be littered with trophies if they can continue to work hard and critically analyse where they need to improve.

Finally, let us consider something for a moment. Fermanagh club football has never been healthier – a bold statement, I know.

Now, that does not follow that Fermanagh county football is about to embark on a sustained period of success. That is an altogether more complicated question.

I know I have already conceded that Derrgonnelly are out in front, but it is fair to say that the chasing pack has never seen as many teams so serious in their expectations, nor indeed so good.

Ederney of course are still there, and supremely talented. Kinawley are coming stronger each year and have massive depth to their panel.

Enniskillen has an abundance of quality that will harden after this year. Rosela are – well, they are Roslea, and reports of their slippage are exaggerated, I feel.

Belnaleck will enter their fourth year of Senior Championship football.

Erne Gaels are back up and will be rejuvenated and a match for anyone, while no-one will want Teemore, who are better, more youthful and more dangerous than many believe.

Add to the above Senior Championship, an Intermediate Championship that has been ultra-competitive for half a decade and a junior championship that produced winners in the shape of a very good St Pat’s team that are on an upward curve.

The split season will help even more and I think fans of club action could be set for what might become something of a golden era in terms of competitiveness and excitement at club level. Roll on next May.