McGourty delighted to see Fermanagh finally land Ulster title

Erne county had lost previous finals to Antrim and Down

Fermanagh players celebrate Ulster Junior Championship victory.
Fermanagh players celebrate their Ulster Junior Football Championship victory over Derry Picture: Martin McBrien

FERMANAGH manager CJ McGourty was delighted to see Fermanagh get their hands on provincial silverware for the first time since 2017 after defeating Derry in Saturday’s Ulster junior final.

The Erne County won the All-Ireland junior title in 2020 but there was no provincial competition that year due to Covid while they lost the last three finals to Antrim and Down so coming out on the right end of the result at the weekend was the main priority.

They controlled the game from start to finish in a 6-14 to 0-10 win over their opponents and were well on their way to victory by half-time 3-9 to 0-4. The first half particularly pleased McGourty, the second half less so as Derry cut through them a few times.

“We are still not where we want to be, but we are definitely along the right path and along the right road and we used this as a stepping stone. We hadn’t won it in a few years, we had no right to win it, we had to turn up today and put in a performance,” he said.

“Derry have improved a lot and we knew that.

“They have a lot of good players but they showed in the second half what they are capable of.

“It was an Ulster final and it is all about winning and we did that and we probably did that with a bit of style in the first half, the second half we weren’t so good, but a result is a result and that is what we came here for.

CJ McGourty
Fermanagh Ladies manager CJ McGourty

“I said to the girls at the start of the year that it is going to take time, five or six months, to get where we want to go.

“We are trying to build, so Fermanagh are in a better place in the future and if that means success along the way, well be it and if it doesn’t, we want to leave Fermanagh in a better place.”

McGourty was forced to shuffle his starting line-up having lost goalkeeper Roisin Gleeson to injury during the week and then Joanne Donnan on Saturday morning for personal reasons, but goalkeeper Megan Maguire and midfielder Molly McGloin, who set Blaithin Bogue up for their first goal, and added a point herself in the first half, stepped up to the mantle.

“That is why we have a squad, that is why we can’t depend on one or two players, we can’t depend on those great individuals all the time and today proved that. Molly was brilliant around the middle of the field,” he said.

“We got five subs in, couple of girls got minutes into the legs, Roisin O’Reilly and Sarah Britton who have been regulars over the last couple of years only coming back in after long-term injury so it was good to get them in.”

Fermanagh captain Shannan McQuade, was presented with Ulster Junior Championship trophy by Ulster LGFA President Gerry Doherty    Picture: Martin McBrien
Fermanagh captain Shannan McQuade, was presented with Ulster Junior Championship trophy by Ulster LGFA President Gerry Doherty Picture: Martin McBrien

Lisa Maguire picked up the player-of-the-match award, the 31-year-old, putting in an outstanding shift for her side, scoring 1-2 and helping to set up more; understandably McGourty was full of praise for the Kinawley player.

“She is unbelievable. We trained here [Augher] on Thursday night and I told her to stay at home because she was driving an hour and 20 minutes, just to keep her fresh for today, what was the point in half an hour.

“We are trying to keep her fresh. We are in there having a meeting and she is joining on video call from home. That is the commitment that girl has. Danni [Maguire] is the same.

“Lisa and Danni, Courteney Murphy have outstanding for Fermanagh for a number of years and don’t get me wrong it took a lot of convincing to get them at the start of the year but when you give people that wee bit of leeway, it helps.”

Fermanagh and Derry will meet again in the All-Ireland competition, which begins in two weeks’ time, having been drawn together in the same group along with Carlow and Sligo, who were relegated from intermediate last year.