By John Carney
THEY may not have been the ‘Gaels’ they thought they’d face in the championship final, but Shane McGullion and his Derrygonnelly side will not be underestimating Belleek in Sunday’s senior decider.
When Erne Gaels beat Enniskillen Gaels 1-10 to 0-9 last Sunday in Kinawley to reach the county final and put out the holders, it came as a shock to many.
If McGullion was thinking his side was in for a handier time of it though, he wasn’t showing it.
“It’s not a surprise because we played Belleek down in Garrison earlier in the championship and that game could have gone either way,” Shane said.
“They are a great side and made the county final last year. I was very impressed with Belleek against Enniskillen and they controlled the game. There are no easy games at this stage anyway.
“It’ll be proper championship football. It will come down to who wants it more on the day and does the basics better.”
The software tester for Allstate NI in Belfast has had his fair share of injuries over the past two years, which involved two serious knee operations, but he has been going strong this season so far for club and county.
“I had a good year with Fermanagh and I’m enjoying my club football at the minute. I’m coming into a wee bit of form, so I want to try and keep it going,” he said.
However, the injury jinx instead hit his brother Stephen during Saturday’s semi-final when he was helped off after sustaining what looked like a serious leg injury.
It was revealed afterwards that he had broken his ankle. It’s bad news for the Harps and the McGullion family – not that Shane hadn’t enough on his mind as it is.
The 25-year-old also has the added responsibility of being the Harps’ captain, but it’s a role he has been relishing.
“To be fair, it was a shock when [manager] Sean [Flanagan] asked me at the start of the year – I nearly had to double-check with him that he’d rang the right number!
“It’s a bit of added responsibility, but it’s also a privilege. There’s plenty of competition for places in the team and no shortage of leaders in the squad. It’s a challenge I’m happy to take on.”
The main feature of Derrygonnelly’s play this year is that when the going gets tough they don’t panic. There is no shortage of experience in their ranks and this was particularly on show against Kinawley last Sunday when they were seven points down, with only ten minutes to play.
“Kinawley hit a purple patch during the second half and really put us on the back foot. It meant we just had to go for it and hunt every ball down that we could as time wasn’t on our side,” Shane explained.
“We practice for certain scenarios in a match. It’s all about getting over the line. We’ll not care how we win, so long as we do.
“Luckily we came out on the right side of it [against Kinawley], but we can’t let Belleek get on top of us like that because they’ll definitely close it out.
“That we didn’t win the championship last year will be a driving factor for us.
“We want to do better than last year and take the title back to Derrygonnelly.”