Tummery Athletic manager Ryan Hanna has hailed his clubs third successive league title victory as the sweetest of them all, as they defeated Dergview Reserves to complete a hat-trick of titles.

For long stretches this season Enniskillen Town set the pace in the league and looked favourites to take their first Division One title for ten years, but as they faltered in the closing weeks, Tummery strung together 12 consecutive league victories to claim the Mercer Cup with a game to spare.


“To go on the run we did was unbelievable,” admitted Hanna.

“We knew it might come to a crunch game at the end of the season, but we avoided that by putting together a string of really high level performances and results, and this one has to be the sweetest given the level of opposition and the standards Town were setting.

“They are all different in their own way. The first one obviously wasn’t ideal, although I think it was still merited given the situation we were in. The second one was brilliant because you had all that banter about an asterisk beside the first one, and that was a source of motivation to attack the second one.

“Given the way the league was as big as it ever had been that was really nice, but to win this one when everyone thought we had no chance at one stage was definitely the sweetest.”

Tummery were playing catch up for most of the season. Despite starting the campaign with seven straight wins, Town’s fixture schedule put them in the driving seat, but Tummery rose to the challenge and went undefeated after losing to Enniskillen Rangers in November.

“We knew when we went out of the cups it was tunnel vision. It was a steely focus,” said Hanna.

“Over the last ten games we came up against every permutation. We were down 1-0, 2-0 down, winning then going behind, winning last minute, had no keeper, suspensions, boys missing.

“We brought everything to the table and no challenge beat us. We overcame them all. That was what we had to do. We knew we were up against quality opposition and Town had points on the board.

“We were hunting, and sometimes it is nice to be hunting rather than the hunted.

“Ultimately we had the momentum and that was what saw us over the line.

“I know there was a significant gap at one stage but it wasn’t something we focussed on. Externally the league was over, but within Tummery we always believed it was in our hands and it was never over. That was the way we played each game.”

Hanna believes one of the key reasons for Tummery’s strong finish to the season was their balance of experience and youth, as they drew on their experiences of the past two winning campaigns.

“In our run-in last year we had two defeats, two wins and a draw in our last five games and if that happened this time around it wouldn’t have been good enough. We took the learnings from that,” he said.

“There were five, six, seven boys that were missing from the team that did that run in, so partly we had that experience, but partly we had lads who had never done it before.

“That inexperience can help sometimes because there is no fear, no scars. It definitely helped that the likes of myself and some of the lads had been through it. We knew what it felt like and it was about recreating that and going one step further and knocking off the points. It was a magnificent run.”

Super performance

The title was secured with a 4-0 victory over Dergview Reserves that the manager reckoned was one of their best performances of the entire season. It took just 14 minutes for teenager Paudi Dillon to open the scoring, and Declan McNulty added a second before half time. Paul McHugh made it 3-0 after 56 minutes before player manager Hanna fittingly wrapped it up with a fourth in the final minute.

“To a man they were superb,” said Hanna after the match.

“We were up against the Junior Cup champions, but we didn’t let that distract us from what we needed to do. The standards were so high, and we brought great intensity to the game. We scored early on, and we built from there.

“It was one of our best performances of the season. From the outside it might have looked like the pressure was on, but I said to the boys this was a free attack on the league. We always had another go at it regardless of the outcome, so we could go at it with no fear, and that is what we did. It’s a credit to each and every one of them.”