Fermanagh’s last competitive action. Some believe a long lay off cost Waterford against Cork in the Munster semi-final on Sunday, but McGrath says the break has been put to good use by Fermanagh.
“It’s been quite a while since the Monaghan match, it’ll be five weeks on Sunday so we have had ample opportunity to get things back on track and get good solid work done on the training field.
“On occasions over the past couple of weeks because of the injuries prevailing our numbers haven’t maybe what they should have been, but all the players who are able to train have trained. They trained hard and diligently and we are going into Sunday’s game with a confident and determined group of players who are up for the challenge of what is going to be a tricky game.”
Some pundits have called on Fermanagh to throw off the shackles for this game and embrace a more attacking style. McGrath isn’t deaf to such calls, but insists there has to be a balanced approach.
“You won’t beat any team unless you’re prepared to attack them. But if you want to win a game of football you have to get the correct balance between a sound defence, making it difficult for the opposition to get scores and at the same time giving yourself every opportunity to go forward effectively and get enough scores to win the game.
“It’s that balance and there’s no doubt that over the past number of years Fermanagh have played their best football when they have opened against teams and taken the game to them. But we’ve always done that with a sound defensive system behind us as well, and that’s the balance we’ll try to bring to Sunday.”
With that in mind McGrath isn’t afraid to admit that much of the past four weeks has been consumed with fine tuning Fermanagh’s defensive posture.
“If you consider that from last year’s team you’ve lost Damian Kelly, Marty O’Brien and for the Monaghan game we lost Declan McCusker. We have also lost Niall Cassidy through retirement. So we have three or four men who were pillars of our defensive formation over this past few years who have gone and in the league the absence of those men showed.
“Getting defensive structure and stability has been something we’ve had to spend time at and we make no apologies for that. Sometimes these people write in the papers and say we’re too defensive and this, that and the other should maybe take a look at the real world.
“Nevertheless you have to get the whole dynamic of the team right with sound defence and the ability go forward in numbers often enough to get enough scores to win.”
An unusual aspect of this game is the Sunday evening throw-in. The Erne boss insists that won’t materially alter his side’s approach to the fixture.
“It won’t effect us that much, if you consider that our game against Monaghan was at 7pm. I think we had maybe one match over qualifiers over this past number of years which was an evening throw in so that won’t bother us because at the end of the day people train in the evenings anyway. The body clocks will be fine, it makes it a bit of a longer day, but that shouldn’t diminish our performance in any way.
“There are all sorts of factors that feed into teams and individual players, but the important thing is players don’t let any peripheral things get into their minds. It’s a game of football, you prepare for it, you know you have the work done and you go out and your mindset is to do the absolute best for the team.
“We always like to keep things simple in that regard, let’s not complicate it or draw in things that don’t have any major bearing.”
All-Ireland Qualifiers Round 1B
Armagh V Fermanagh
Athletic Grounds, Armagh,
Posted: 1:16 pm June 23, 2017