Fermanagh is a small county, with a small pick, we all know that. But, for all that, the county has been blessed with some rare talents over the years. McGinnity, McGrath, Owens picked up All-Stars, but one man who who deserves mention in their company is Eoin Donnelly.
Men aren’t named captain of their province as a pat on the back. It’s a recognition of leadership qualities above and beyond the norm. Donnelly wore that lofty mantle with all the aplomb and authority we’ve come to expect of him in the emerald jersey.
The Erne captain has been the tireless fulcrum of Fermanagh in the 2010s. In that period he has seen good times and bad times. His view on Fermanagh’s current status offers a sober assessment of the sides pre-championship state of mind.
“It was a tough league. We knew it was going to be a tough league from the start, but we started with high aspirations. We started well, but then we had a few bad results and had to re-evaluate.
“We just had too many inconsistent performances. We had games where we were doing certain things well and then in the next game we weren’t doing them well. We were up and down in different parts of our performance in attack and defence.
“It left us with a lot of things to work on between league and championship. But at the end of the day we wanted to have a good league and be in a good division. I’m a firm believer that you need to high up the leagues, getting consistent performances and consistent success.
“Unfortunately we went down. I don’t think there’s a disgrace in going from division two to division three, they’re both tough divisions. We don’t have the biggest squad and we don’t have a lot of players to pick from so when you have injuries and suspensions you are going to have some tough times in the league.
“We want to be high up the divisions, but at the end of the day you’re judged on championship football. As bad as it was getting relegated, it doesn’t define your season. You could turn around and have a great championship and that’s all people will remember. They don’t care what division you’re playing in.
“That’s what we’ve been focusing on this past number of weeks. Park the League, park the McKenna Cup and just focus on Ulster championship. That’s the bottom line at the minute.”
The bookies might have Fermanagh written off, but how does Donnelly believe the Erne men will have booked their Ulster quarter-final spot against Cavan should they have succeeded in tearing up the form book.
“A lot of hard work,” says the Fermanagh captain. “We’ll have had to have performed consistently well over the 70 minutes. We can’t afford to have patches in the game where we aren’t converting our chances or where we aren’t up to the intensity of the game.
“We have to be consistent and converting a high number of our chances when we get forward. In defence we need to be meaner than we have been in the league. The players who come on will all have to bought into what were trying to do and they’ll have to play their part too if we’re to get the result we all want.”
Posted: 9:52 am May 20, 2017
THE Ulster dream might be over for another year, but Fermanagh won’t have long to feel sorry for themselves....