Co-chairman Derrygonnelly: ‘A lot of hard work from people at the club has gone unrewarded’

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Derrygonnelly will be aiming to become the first club from Fermanagh to win an Ulster senior club title this Sunday when they take on Kilcoo, but club co-chairman Sean Smyth says the club’s current success is not always the path for the harps. .

Aside from a period in the 60s when he moved to Belfast, Smyth has always been involved with the Harps, but he acknowledges that most of the early days were just about staying afloat.

“People have come and gone; we’ve lost a lot of good mentors and good workers and I could mention guys that have worked for the club over the years, and it wasn’t for any rewards – it was just to keep the club going at this Stadium.

“We’ve also had great players over the years who received few accolades. It’s nothing compared to what we have today,” he said.

On the pitch, Derrygonnelly began to shine in the mid-1990s. Under Sean’s chairmanship, they earned promotion to the Premier League and then clinched their first New York Cup in 1995.

“I was president for eight or nine years until 1995. We were in Division 2 when I took over; I remember we faced Erne Gaels in a Division Two final at Brewster Park and it was on a Saturday – the first senior final played on a Saturday at Fermanagh.

“Erne Gaels was strong then with the Gallaghers and Eddie Reilly, but we won it and have been in Division One ever since.”

And then the big win came in 1995 as they beat Lisnaskea to win the New York Gold Cup.

“We won our first championship in 1995 and we thought we had reached the top of the hill then. It was a tremendous win – it was a great opportunity in Irvinestown against a Lisnaskea team that was doing well,” he added.

Sean has also seen a lot of progress off the pitch and is a firm believer in a club that never stops.

“Originally we were playing about a mile away in the Dolan ground, and I remember cycling there in the 1940s and you should have cut the bases!

Refurbished

“We then moved to the present ground in 1962 and then it was redeveloped again in 1983 in Joe Corrigan’s Lane; he was president at the time.

“We have now added the new pitch and complex, with much of the work done by club volunteers, and we have also bought some land for further development.

“I always maintain that a club in debt is a club that works, there is no point in having money in the bank.

“If you have a club, you have to make it work,” he said.

This behind-the-scenes work has also continued over the years and Sean singled out Hugh Kelly for his work in setting up Sunday morning youth training.

“Hugh Kelly has done a lot of unseen work at our club. He has organized Sunday morning football and it’s amazing what that development has done for our club.

“These guys who are all playing now would have gone through this program,” he said.

And these lads have continued to dominate club football at Fermanagh in recent years, with Sean acknowledging it’s an exceptional time for the club as they now go in search of an Ulster title.

“It’s something we dream of. Myself, being the age I am now, I think of all the guys who came before me, may God have them all, and how much they would love to be here for such an occasion,” he said. he declares.

Sean enjoys watching his grandchildren play for the harps, and on Sunday his grandson Oisin will take the field.

“Oisin’s dad, Niall, wore number five when he first won the championship in 1995 and now Oisin wears it, and it’s great to see,” said Sean, who will be part of the great Harps support that will travel to Armagh on Sunday.

“You want a big stick to keep me away!” I’m at every game; it’s great to be able to go to them.

So how does he think it will turn out?

“It’s all in the day. It’s all about your performance, and luck also plays a big part in it. You would be confident in the boys – they have the ability to do this.

“Whether they put it together on the day is another thing, but hopefully they will.

“There are an incredible amount of good players in this team, as good as anywhere in Ulster,” he concluded.

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