PREVIEW: Fermanagh go big game hunting

Paul McCusker of Fermanagh  DP66

Paul McCusker of Fermanagh DP66

Pauric McGurn looks ahead to Fermanagh v Roscommon on Sunday at Brewster Park…

A first ever meeting in Championship football takes place this Sunday in Enniskillen with the clash of Pete McGrath and John Evans’ sides in Round 3A of the All-Ireland Football Qualifiers.

Both sides bring winning runs into the contest with Roscommon over-coming 14 man Cavan last Saturday in Breffni Park, while Fermanagh blitzed Antrim by 13 points the following day.

The winner of this game will be just one win away from a quarter-final appearance so both teams know the magnitude of this contest.

Fermanagh had a hugely impressive performance against Antrim the last day out with Sean Quigley hitting a staggering personal tally of 0-14 against the Saffron’s.

Eoin Donnelly controlled the midfield superbly, while defenders such as Michael Jones, Niall Cassidy and goal scorer from the last day out Martin O’Brien have a great understanding between each other.

Pete McGrath’s side will be hugely encouraged by the fact that they have home advantage once again in the fortress Brewster Park and with the loud home support Fermanagh will certainly be in with a chance against their Connacht neighbours.

Ryan McCluskey will be back into the squad after a one match suspension, while brothers Tomás and Ruairí Corrigan will be given plenty of time to prove their fitness after suffering injuries in recent games.
This is a huge game for Roscommon. After successfully getting out of division 3 in 2014 they surprised everyone this year by gaining promotion to the top tier of National League football and also had the bonus of defeating Down in the 2015 Division 2 league decider at Croke Park.

Earlier in the season John Evans suggested his side will soon be pushing for All-Ireland honours but that was soon put to bed after Sligo shocked them in the Connacht semi-final, 1-14 to 0-13. Roscommon impressed though in defeating Cavan in Round 2A of the Qualifiers with Enda Smith (2-1), Cathal Gregg (1-1) and Ultan Harney (0-3) all looking extremely sharp.

Roscommon will look to Neil Collins at full back to go on a man marking job with Sean Quigley, while Niall Carty who missed the Cavan victory through injury may come back in to shore up defence at centre half back, the strong Padraig Pearse’s man is also the captain once again this season and will be a massive bonus to call upon for the Roscommon team.

At midfield Ian Kilbride and Kevin Higgins performed superbly against Cavan and in attack Roscommon can call upon some of the brightest talents around with names like Ultan Harney, Enda Smith and Donie Shine. Then there’s Diarmuid Murtagh who made a return from injury against Cavan with 16 minutes to go and still kicked 0-3 from play.

Roscommon come into the game well backed with prices of 4/9 going around. They got over the banana skin of London beating the Exiles by 1-14 to 0-10 before sensationally being dumped out by Sligo. The Cavan performance was top notch although they do have injury worries over top quality players like Senan Kilbride, Cathal Shine and Mark Healy.

Fermanagh will know this is a huge chance of making round 4 of the Qualifiers. If they can keep it tight and the defence can curtail the explosive runs of the likes of Enda Smith and Ultan Harney then Fermanagh will be in the game. Sean Quigley will know that he will be singled out, but the Roslea man will thrive on the added interest.

I expect a tight game, confidence is high in both camps and both teams will treat each other with the utmost of respect. Fermanagh will fancy their chances, they have home advantage and a rousing crowd behind them, and I fancy the Erne men to shade a very tight encounter.

VERDICT: Fermanagh


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