By Shaun Casey
ENNISKILLEN Gaels can bolster their league title chances this weekend as they host joint-table toppers Kinawley on Friday evening.
Their aspirations were dealt a big blow in the last round when the lost out to Devenish by one point, although they were down a number of key men such as Richard O’Callaghan, James Ferguson and Cian Newman.
“We’ve had a good league,” said manager Simon Bradley. “The Club Players league at the start we got maximum points out of it which you never know what you’re going to get in the Club Players league when you’re playing teams without county players.
“We’re happy enough with that, it’s put us in a good position for the league itself. We were going well until last Friday night and then we got beat by Devenish, we just didn’t perform. It was another wee learning curve for our boys because they’re still quite a young team.
“Inexperience is a good word because they haven’t been in the position where they’re going into games favourites, and they just didn’t bring what they needed to bring to the party.”
This weekend could have a huge say on how the league ends up as the current top four all play off, with Erne Gaels also meeting Ederney. “What we’ve basically done now is set ourselves up for three championship games over the next three weekends.
“It’s good that way because it saves us having to chase around the country looking for challenge matches whereas other teams I know have arranged challenge matches because they don’t have an opportunity to get into the league final.
“We’re happy with where we’re at, we would have been happier with the two points last week but we’re still not completely out of it so it’s still nice to have something to play for at this stage of the league.
“Last year we learned a lot from our league final appearance, certainly we were very low after it so I think if we don’t win the league, I don’t think it will affect us as badly as it did last year.
“As management and players, we’re learning not to get too high with the wins and not to get too low with the loses and really focus on the championship.”
The Gaels made the championship final last season only to lose out to Derrygonnelly by nine in the end. Bradley oversaw the last Enniskillen Gaels side to lift the New York Cup in 2006 and is back in charge this year, replacing John Rehill who stepped aside following five years in the job.
“You can only have one number one target and ours was to close the gap physically this year so we have to keep resetting the compass back to that sometimes, you can get carried away with matches, but we really do want to focus on developing the team over the next two or three years and if we are competitive over that two or three years well and good.”