By Niall Gartland
SATURDAY was redemption day for Devenish as they ended a 26-year wait for championship glory by coming up trumps in their Intermediate final against Tempo.
Sylvester ‘Sid’ Mulrone just so happened to be in charge back in 1996 when they claimed their last senior championship crown. He returned for another stint last year and has guided them to another piece of silverware, and it means the world for a club that has been relatively starved of success in recent decades.
Mulrone said: “Mickey Gilroy and myself were in charge that day and 26 years later we’re delighted to get over the line again. Saturday was a huge day for the club, and with the amount of supporters and young children at the game, it can only bode well for the future.”
It’s very much a family affair with Mulrone’s son Barry involved as part of the management team alongside another former Fermanagh footballer Martin O’Brien and Gerard O’Brien.
Barry, who has recovered from an ACL injury, togged out and played in Saturday’s win over Tempo, and it was just reward for a long and stellar playing carer, particularly after the disappointment of last year’s final defeat to Erne Gaels.
His father said: “There’s a few lads like Barry – Terry Flanagan, Marty O’Brien, John O’Flanagan, Chrissy and Joe O’Brien, Thomas Treacy and Jason Love.
“All those boys have soldiered hard over the years with little or no reward, and hopefully this has come as a reward to them.
“Last year Erne Gaels beat us with the last kick of the game. We probably didn’t deserve to win that game but we’d have taken it at the same time. We felt we didn’t really do ourselves justice and would do our utmost to get back and make amends, and thankfully that’s what we’ve done.”
“Nothing beats winning with your club no matter the circumstances. They’re the people you grow up with and see on a daily basis, it was a long wait for us after some missed opportunities. We’ve reached a few finals since 1996 but never got over the line. Unfortunately for the likes of Barry and Terry it may be a swansong to their career but hopefully it’ll also be the start of something special in Garrison [where the club is based].”
Indeed, Mulrone has good reason to believe that the future is bright for Devenish. They had four players on this year’s Fermanagh minor squad (Cian O’Brien, Ciaran Cullen, Fionan O’Brien and Anthony Feely), so there’s no shortage of youthful talent coming through the ranks.
“We’ve been in a rebuilding process in Devenish this last couple of years but we’ve a lot of good youth coming through and four of the county minors are coming into the squad next year, which will be a massive boost to us. It’s encouraging to see how Erne Gaels have progressed at senior level this year as well.
“I know the gap between u-17 and senior football is a fairly big jump – we’ll blend those lads in and get them up to speed with club football in Fermanagh, and hopefully it’ll work out well for everyone.”