|Venue: Athletic Grounds, Armagh Date: Saturday, 26 November Throw-in: 18:00 GMT|
|Coverage: Match report and highlights on the BBC Sport website|
Enniskillen Gaels forward Conor Love says he was imploring Kilcoo to win their Ulster Club SFC quarter-final with Ballybay because he wanted a crack at the All-Ireland champions.
“You want to play against the best. We didn’t just want experience,” Love, 21, told BBC Sport Northern Ireland.
And what’s more, Love says this new exciting Enniskillen team believe “we’re good enough to beat anyone”.
“Kilcoo were maybe in the same position as we are now, 10 years ago.”
He added: “In 10 years’ time, we want to be Kilcoo.
“It’s about experiences. Learning from the best. Whatever happens on Saturday, we’re going to give it everything and hopefully that means we’re on the right side of the result.
“If it doesn’t, we’ve just played the best team in Ireland.”
Enniskillen Gaels, with the Brewster brothers Paul and Tom and Colm Bradley among influential members of the side, mixed it at the top table in Ulster Club Football in the late 1990s and and early 2000s as they lost close provincial finals against a great Crossmaglen side (1999) and Errigal Ciaran (2002).
But after that fine side broke up, the Gaels tumbled into the wilderness even in Fermanagh as they failed to reach a county final for 15 years following their 2006 triumph.
“Five or six years ago, we nearly made the drop down to junior football and only for a few heroics that day, we would have,” recalls Love.
But the club’s fortunes were soon turned around by the emergence of a host of talented young players who played on the 2017 Ulster Minor Club Championship winning team.
These included gifted performers such as Eoin Beacom and Brandon Horan who were followed by a later batch that included Love.
Sunday’s side does includes experienced performers such as Fermanagh county player Richard O’Callaghan but it’s a predominantly young group of players who were used to winning in the underage grades.
“It’s a young team and when we were younger, we won a lot, so it’s about bringing that into senior,” adds Love, who particularly revelled in his Ulster Senior Club Championship debut against Gowna as he notched eight points – including six from play – before Enniskillen grabbed a dramatic penalty shootout triumph over the Cavan side.
Previous near-misses no millstone insists Love
After all the club have been through over the last 15 years, it was an emotional triumph for all Enniskillen folk present – young, middle aged and old.
Love insists that those previous painful near-misses at Ulster level are no millstone around the necks of the current crew.
“The lads are in the club and those who have been before have been excellent in helping us out the last five, 10 years.
“It’s never been a hindrance. I could see how it [talking about the old days] could be for other clubs who have gone that step and got that glory but because we haven’t done it, everyone has encouraged us to make that extra step.”
After returning to the senior grade in Fermanagh last year after lifting the intermediate county title in 2020, Enniskillen went all the way to the final before finding an experienced Derrygonnelly a bridge too far in the decider as the Harps clinched a 2-8 to 0-5 victory.
Derrygonnelly went on to reach the provincial final after wins over Dromore and Clann Eireann only to completely under-perform as Kilcoo – who had struggled to overcome them in the 2019 semi-final – romped to a 3-10 to 0-3 victory.
This year, Enniskillen avenged that Fermanagh Final defeat by edging a thrilling 1-15 to 2-11 semi-final victory over Harps last month before going to hammer Erne Gaels 3-12 to 0-11 as they collected their 13th senior county title.
Despite Derrygonnelly’s capitulation against Kilcoo last year, Love believes the Harps’ run to the final should offer Enniskillen encouragement for Saturday’s contest in Armagh.
“That was a day when they didn’t turn up but Derrygonnelly were well worth their place in the final last year.
“We’re in the semi-final and it’s definitely there for us. It’s a tough challenge but at the end of the day, they are just a club team and we’re just a club team.
“We’re a county town and Kilcoo’s a small village so at the end of the day, we should adopt the advantage but we don’t but that’s something for us to change.”