It has been another worthwhile campaign in the McKenna cup this year says JOHN WOODS in this week’s LAST LINE.
I would never rely heavily on the McKenna cup to predict any future form for a county team as it is used mostly as an experimental tool by most managers to see if they can find a few extra hidden gems which they can add to the previous year’s panel.
It’s become maybe more useful in recent years with a higher turnover of players in inter-county panels from previous years due to the ever increasing demands and the ever reducing age of the county player.
Even with all the chopping and changing in personnel, it great for a team to build some fitness, momentum and consistency. What I have noticed over the last few Fermanagh game, even with a lot of new faces being tried out is that the team was very fluid and organised in their play.
With the extra game in the McKenna Cup semi-final and the confidence boost of a few wins, the team will be going into the league in a positive frame of mind, aided by a few new faces to the squad.
I’m sure Pete McGrath and the management team will face a few hard decisions to make when cutting the panel, as over the past few months every new player will have committed 100 percent to achieving their goal of playing inter county football. It would have been hard for the new guys as it hasn’t been ideal weather conditions to be showcasing your ability. Combined with the inevitable nerves, most will feel they didn’t get a great chance to show what they have got.
Managers take all these factors into consideration and they are looking for the small things. A player’s mindset will be a big indicator as any on field display, for any manager. It will take hard work and full commitment for the season, so a player must show he is in it for the long haul.
A few Tyrone players were in the headlines a few months back after leaving the panel in the summer because of lack of game time. Mickey Harte described them as a drain on the panel and he was better without them.
You can see both perspectives on this, the manager’s job is hard as 30 men are making the same commitment and effort and he can only choose 15 to start every game, a lot of management is down man management as much as game management.
If some of these new faces do make it on to the Fermanagh panel, they will need to bide their time. Very few players make an instant breakthrough at the top level, you need to be either exceptionally talented or very lucky.
Sometimes you can be given the chance due to an injury crisis in a certain position, all you can do then is grab that chance with both hands and make it difficult for the manager to drop you as players come back.
Some fresh energy will be great for the team and create some competition within the squad which can only be a positive thing, ensuring the more senior players are kept on their toes.