Musician Lee Jones hoping to be in tune as Darrigonelli Harps eye-catching success in Ulster club decider

At one point Lee Jones showed that county football was not for him.

E was in Killarney on Boxing Night 2019, playing guitar with his folk-pop group The Tumbling Paddies. His performance for the Darrigonelli Harps caught the attention of new Firmnag manager Ryan McMenamin, and he was added to the squad.

Jones went to the gig with his father. A bed awaited him in Killarney, but with Lee sleeping in the back seat his father drove six hours before the gig.

The next morning, a cold and reluctant Lisan awaits him for a session at the Fermanagh training complex.

One of the management team entered the dressing room and announced that the session they had scheduled was meant as a test of character, just to see how much punishment the panel could bear before leaving.

“You can imagine how it made me feel!” Jones laughed now.

“But we never saw a ball that whole season, it was just torture. Running on top of running… just brutal.

“After that, I knew it would be one or the other. There were a lot of gigs in the pipeline at that stage and I stayed for about a month or two and played a couple of McKenna Cup games, and then I pulled the pin. I just put it on Didn’t deserve to. The body was not allowing me.”

Music was inherited from his grandfather Trotter, a self-taught man who learned by ear.

Jones’ parents gave him music lessons at the age of eight. Piano soon gave way to guitar, a spell on drums and eventually reverting to six-strings.

I’ve played in traditional seasons across the county. Several years ago, the Bioga band had a gig at the Ardhoven Theater in Enniskillen and required an opening act. One was quickly stitched together and The Tumbling Paddies were on the road.

Now, they have six members and find themselves on the road every weekend, although they have no sporting engagements this weekend. All the better for tomorrow’s Ulster club final against Kilkoo.

In his spare time, if it can be said, he works as an electronic engineer in Galway, training six-hour round trips on Tuesday evenings before returning home for a weekend of football and music. works out.

Winning championships and a hectic schedule of events like mixing oil and water. To make it work, Jones is the cleanest-living rock ‘n’ roller. If he has any pre-gig nerves, he may not reach for a settling or two.

“It’s the choices you make. I still want to play football and if you want to do that, you have to bite the bullet and not have a pint before or after the gig,” he laughed.

“I’m usually late to a gig from training or a match, not much time for a pinch.”

Music has given him a lot, at least not the enthusiasm to play abroad several times. The gig that stood out for him was a cave in Germany on Saturday night, followed by a red-eye flight and back into Sunday night’s porridge in Carrick-on-Shannon.

The excitement of that life is combined with a dizzying run to the Ulster club final as Derigonelli bids to clinch a senior provincial title, becoming Fermanagh’s first club team.

Usually a mainstay of the team, he came to the county finals to help steer the ship in the final quarter against Enniskillen Gael.

He came in that tumultuous inaugural Ulster win over Tyrone champions Dromore and made it back to the starting line-up for a semi-final win over Klan Eiren.

The Derigonelli story is an intriguing one, steeped in misery.

It was not until 1995 that he won his first county title. He followed it up in 2004 and 2009 but started a run in 2015 which was interrupted by St Joseph in the final last year.

At the start of the race, he lost club legend Damien McGovern to an industrial accident. Like many others in the club, Jones worked with and played for him.

They took an under-age team that played on Jones, who sat in Division Three. By the time he was a minor, he had won county championships in grade ‘A’.

Last summer, another cast-iron club man in Peter Jones – the father of current players Leigh and Aaron – died in a drowning accident. Any club would be on their knees to thank their good fortune to be like them. Derigonelli has lost two years ahead of his time.

When they met Slotneil in 2015, the scoreline was 4-13 to 1-4.

Meanwhile, he has learned his lesson. A year later, they met Slotneil again. This time the margin was just five points.

They have stacked one block on top of another. They have cut the wood, and took away the water. They have knocked out the Tyrone opposition for two years in a row and after losing to Kilku in the 2019 Ulster semi-final, the difference was just two points.

“We’re lucky,” Jones said.

“Darigonelli has a bunch of players who are well drilled and they want to go places. They want more and more.”

They are all singing from the same hymn.