Leitrim legend Flanagan leads Belnaleck to Fermanagh crown

Pauric McGurn


Pauric McGurn

Leitrim legend Flanagan leads Belnaleck to Fermanagh crown

Gerry Flanagan (centre) enjoying Aughawillan's County Final celebrations in 2016.

He may have won a Connacht title in 1994 with Leitrim but Belnaleck manager Gerry Flanagan says Friday’s 0-14 to 1-10 victory over Coa in the Fermanagh Junior Championship Final was every bit as sweet.

The Aughawillan great had won six Leitrim titles and in just his first year in charge of Belnaleck, Flanagan has led to the County title and now has the added bonus of going on and representing Fermanagh in an Ulster Club JFC quarter-final against the Down winners, Dundrum or Bright.

For now though, Flanagan, who managed Cloone to win a Leitrim Intermediate title against his native Aughawillan back in 2009, says we will be cherishing the experience of Friday evening for a while yet.

“Seven minutes of injury time. We saw penalties, sending offs, a few scuffles and then the relief of hearing the full time whistle. The lads themselves are a really great bunch to work with, they are hard working and Rory Gallagher would be mad if he doesn’t give a good few of them a chance on the county squad for next season.

“To have lost the previous two finals, I know the players really didn’t want the record of a third final defeat, they worked hard. I felt we controlled the game well and probably in fairness we should have been further ahead than just three points at the break.”

Flanagan, who is an uncle of Teemore Shamrocks man Ciaran McManus, admitted that his side really savoured Friday’s victory.

“We enjoyed ourselves well into the weekend and sure why not. The players worked hard all year and I really must say they are all genuine and honest fellas.”

Looking to the Ulster Club date with the Down champions, Flanagan  maintains his side will go into the game well-prepared and makes an interesting observation about the standard of football in Fermanagh relative to Leitrim.

“I have to say Fermanagh Junior club football is at a much higher grade than Leitrim Intermediate football. We don’t know much about either Down side, but we will go to watch the game and with people like Malachy McConnell in our club, he will certainly keep us right with stats and updates on whatever side we face.”

Belnaleck are pencilled in to face Bright or Dundrum on the weekend of October 28 or 29. If they can overcome that they will be facing the winners of the Armagh v Derry tie in a semi-final.