At the final whistle there was no complaints from Devenish boss Malachy Cullen. His side had come up seven points short against a controlled and dominant Derrygonnelly Harps side that captured its third Fermanagh senior championship in succession.
“They are a very good team. Not only well drilled and with good players but they are also very physically strong all over the pitch,” a magnanimous Cullen stated after the game.
For the first 15 minutes the game had been of the nip and tuck variety with Devenish holding a one point lead and Cullen revealed that this was a position they were pleased to be in;
“I suppose one of the things that you are worried about going in to the game was if the occasion would get to a few players and I have to say that wasn’t the case. We settled very well and we were fairly happy with how things were after 15 minutes.”
The game was to take a turn in the favour of Derrygonnelly from that point however as the champions clipped over six of the next seven points to take a four point lead into the break;
“They got going well and we struggled a little bit. We needed every man to be able to produce their very best and despite the best efforts of all the players, because we couldn’t question their work-rate, we just didn’t reach the level of performance that we needed,” Cullen stated before adding;
“If we had of got into the break maybe a point or two we could have put pressure on them. And then Chris (O’Brien) had a half chance for a goal just after half time but it just went over. But as I said Derrygonnelly were very very strong.”
For this Devenish squad Sunday will have been a chastening experience. A point that Cullen conceded;
“It was very disappointing because we did not perform like we can, or indeed how we had to in order to get the win. For some of these players they have been battling a long time to reach a county final so to lose out without playing our best is tough but I know they will come back form this.”
Devenish now have to try and pick themselves up for a league semi final and Cullen knows that this will be a difficult task;
“It will be hard after Sunday because we put so much in to it. There was a great buzz around the club with the centenary celebrations and Sunday was tough. But we will have pick ourselves up and do everything we can to finish the season strongly.”
Looking ahead to next season the Devenish manager believes that his side have what it takes to come back and compete again for the New York Cup.
“There is a lot of experience in the team but it is not a very old team and there are a number of younger players coming into the senior squad next season who should really help bolster things so I have no doubt the appetite will be there to go again and try and win a championship.”
2018 will seem like a long way away for the Devenish players after Sunday’s defeat but they still have one of the strongest squads in the county and when the new year comes so too will fresh enthusiasm. And the old adage that sometimes you have to lose a final to win one will no doubt be voiced as they look about securing that much sought after championship title.