AS Erne Gaels’ manager Seamus Ryder recalled the last time the Belleek men won the Division One trophy back in 1996, you could see what this one meant to him and the entire club.
As the yellow and black clad Belleek supporters streamed onto the pitch, young and old rejoiced in their achievement;
“It is just brilliant. Ever since we were young, I was at the ‘96 final, I’m showing my age. That was the last piece of big success that we have had. Last year meant a lot when we beat Garrison in the (Intermediate) final and we did it with a last-minute goal but that is top-level football now.
“We are delighted to achieve that and the aim is to push on now and give the championship a rattle.”
Ryder’s side have impressed in the league and no team will look forward to playing them. The manager admits they didn’t perform to their usual heights in the final though;
“It was an absolute battle today. Kinawley brought everything and we just got over the line.
“I didn’t think that we performed well but you have to give credit to Kinawley. They set up very well, they brought a massive fight and Sean McManus kicked some outrageous scores.
“We kept ahead of them. I think we might have been behind one, I can’t remember, but we just kept in front and in front of them. That last free could have gone either way, it could have been extra time, but we got that bit of luck and we deserved it.”
Erne Gaels join Belnaleck, Teemore and Derrygonnelly in Group A now and Ryder is looking forward to the challenge; The Harps are reigning champions but there’s plenty of stiff competition throughout the county.
“There is a lot of belief and determination and it is starting to grow and grow.
“There are a few teams that will have their eyes on the championship trophy but it should be a good championship and we’ll be there or thereabouts.
“Belnaleck are going to be a massive fight. They have been missing boys all summer and they are all back and it’s going to be a good one.
“Derrygonnelly will still feel that they are the best team but, at the minute, we are the best team in Fermanagh and whoever has the championship trophy in the next six or seven weeks – they are the best team in Fermanagh.
“For six or seven weeks, we will call ourselves the best anyway,” he smiled.