Fermanagh two-time All-Star winner, Barry Owens gives his view on Fermanagh’s next move..
With the national football league all done and dusted, where does it leave the Fermanagh senior team?
Well we’re not as bad as a lot of people were thinking at the start of the year and probably not as good as some where thinking just before the league final.
Fermanagh have done incredibly well so far and achieved their main target for this time of year which was promotion from division three.
The league title would have been the icing on the cake but I think Armagh are just a wee bit ahead of us in the development of their squad. They have much stronger strength in depth which was illustrated when they were able to bring Kieran McKeever on at half time, he steadied Armagh’s defence and they looked a lot more organised in the second half.
In contrast Fermanagh lost Eoin Donnelly to injury before the game and they missed him badly. Eoin’s injury meant Fermanagh had to move Ryan Jones to midfield which weakened the forward line. Ryan is our strongest forward and our most direct, with Ryan at midfield Ruairi Corrigan moved to centre half forward and probably wasn’t as effective there as he has been in corner forward. Fermanagh are probably lacking strength in depth in midfield. It’s alright saying you have Ryan Jones there to cover but it’s just a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Fermanagh were by far the better team for the first 25 to 30 minutes, but that dominance wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard.
After a few missed scoring opportunities our confidence seemed to dip and Armagh’s grew. In the second half Armagh were content to sit back and hit us on the break which they did to good effect.
I know everyone says it’s only the league but when you’re involved at any level of sport you want to win every game, even in training!
The players would have been extremely disappointed with the last 40 minutes or so but that experience will stand to them for the championship game with Antrim, who I feel aren’t near the level of Armagh or Fermanagh.
Fermanagh though won’t be taking Antrim lightly as they only have to look back to last year to see how there is no certainties in Ulster football.
Fermanagh had a good league campaign and this gives us a lot of optimism going into the championship.
The next few weeks are vital in the preparation of the team. The training will be stepped up a gear by the management, but from my experience this is the most enjoyable time of year as the runs aren’t as long which used to suit me!
The weather is generally better, which is a help when training up at Lissan as it is a bleak place in winter. The club games come thick and fast which can sometimes be a conflict of interest to county players especially if they are carrying a niggly injury.
On one hand you want to give yourself every chance to be 100% fit for the championship and that could mean missing a game or two and on the other hand you don’t want to let the club down. It’s a tough choice but sometimes players have to be selfish at this time of year, you don’t train 5-6 times a week from October to then miss out on the Championship.
Usually the team goes away for a weekend, this gives the players a chance to relax between trainings and get whatever physio treatment they need. It is also a chance for the management to have full access to the players for a few days and to work on attacking and defensive play. Their game plan, which is effective, will be tweaked in challenge games in the weeks leading up to the championship.
This leads me on to an important challenge game between Fermanagh and Sligo which is being held in memory of Oisin Mc Grath. It is taking place on May the 10th in Brewster Park at 6.30pm. All donations will go towards the Oisin McGrath foundation which was formed in memory of Oisin who died so tragically in February.
You can find more information at www.oisinsfoundation.com. Let’s get out and support this worthy cause.
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