Fermanagh will enter the game against Roscommon as favourites on Saturday. It is a role reversal from the quarter final against Waterford where the Munster girls were confident of advancing. Fermanagh revelled in the underdog role and will have to adapt this week to added expectation.
The game gets underway at 1.45pm in Longford and while it is live on TG4 Fermanagh manager, Lisa Woods, has urged Fermanagh fans to come out and get behind their girls.
The turn around in the last six weeks has been quite astonishing. A chastening defeat in the Ulster final at the hands of Down saw them lose their provincial crown. But since then there has been a lot of soul searching and what has emerged is a steely resolve and determination to reach their potential.
Manager Lisa Woods is to be given great credit for the way she has overseen a transition period where young players have been integrated with the more experienced. Now the team has that elusive blend of youthful exuberance and mature know how. It has proved a perfect mix.
Yet, for all their improvement they are only back to the stage that they reached last season when Tipperary staged a scarcely believable late smash and grab. Fermanagh were heading for an All-Ireland final and Croke Park when Tipp hit for 1-2 in the last minute to squeeze home by a point. Fermanagh will want to right that wrong but they will need to be at their best against a bright, fit and pacey Roscommon team.
Roscommon won division four without losing a game and defeating Antrim comfortably in the final by eight points. Their only defeat came in the Connacht final at the hands of Sligo when the Yeats County Girls pulled away in extra time. Since then they have beaten Offaly and Longford conceding only 18 scores in two hours of football.
They have considerably improved their defence while they still have eye catching forwards in the shape of Martina Freyne and Jenny Downey who have both been in good scoring form.
Fermanagh though will know they have the quality in their side to both stifle any attack and strike fear into opposition defences. Marcella Monaghan, Kyla McManus and Tara Little just three players in defence who know how to shut teams out and with Marita McDonald sweeping back from her wing half forward berth Fermanagh have been very difficult to break down when they get the system right.
Caroline Little has been deployed in midfield this year. Her free running and explosiveness is well matched by Aine McHugh’s savage work rate and ball winning ability in the Erne engine room. Further up field Aisling Moane has been ever reliable while Sharon Little and Noelle Connolly have proved too hot for opposition defences to handle.
Fermanagh stand just 60 minutes from their first All-Ireland final since 2009 and a rematch with Down who have already booked their final place with a 1-16 to 2-10 victory over Leitrim.
Fermanagh won’t be thinking of Croke Park just yet, but produce their best this Saturday their and attentions may just be turning towards the capital.
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