As Fermanagh make their final preparations ahead of facing Armagh in Brewster Park on Saturday evening, manager Rory Gallagher says he is able to select from a full panel.
County players have lined out through a month of club league games, and while some knocks have been picked up along the way, the Belleek man says all personnel will be present, correct and ready for action come Paddy Neilan’s throw-in on Saturday.
“Paul [McCusker] and Sean [Quigley] got a bang on the finger and Ruairí got a bang on the hand, but they’re all OK. It’s ironic, it never happened in the National League and you smile. But the one thing you fear is muscle injuries and we’ve been fairly OK.”
Meanwhile the rumour mill has been in full spate practically since the league final at the start of April regarding the state of the Armagh panel, with question marks put over the availability of a number of key players.
Rory Gallagher says his team won’t be putting too much store in such speculation and insists he is planning on Armagh bringing their strongest possible force to Enniskillen.
“There is huge speculation about players. Armagh have a big presence in the media and they can control a lot of the news that goes out, whether they want it to be positive or not.
“There’s nobody speculating about Fermanagh players. Maybe people haven’t as much interest in Fermanagh players.
“We will plan for a fully fit [Armagh] squad. It’s well documented Rory Grugan dislocated his elbow. It’s a three to five week injury. He did it five weeks ago, we expect him to be playing.
“There’s speculation about Ethan Rafferty, that talk goes on and there’s nothing we can do about that. We just focus on ourselves and plan for all eventualities.”
Fermanagh have faced Armagh twice already this season in the league. The first clash in Brewster was a seven point apiece draw, while Armagh edged the league final in Croke Park by two points.
Gallagher believes his side have learned some valuable lessons from those encounters and intends to apply them this Saturday.
“In the two games there were huge periods were we struggled to get primary possession, where they dominated the kick outs. They caused us trouble in both games with letting the ball in. I think in both games, particularly the league final, we missed too many chances. They’d be three areas I’d feel we need to improve massively.
“Even the first day we were 4-0 up, and then 5-1 at half-time. But then we had serious trouble getting our hands on enough ball in the second half. Even though we went down to 13 men and fought manfully, you need the ball to win the game.”
While Armagh have had the edge in recent years, as the manager points out, there has been fine margins between the sides. If the hosts can turn those fine margins, then an Ulster semi-final is well within Fermanagh’s grasp
Full Rory Gallagher interview in this week’s Fermanagh Herald.
- Ulster SFC quarter-final
Fermanagh v Armagh
Brewster Park, 7pm
Ref: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)