Ulster under 21 championship
Monaghan v Fermanagh
Wednesday, Inniskeen, 8pm.
Ref: Ciaran Mooney (Down)
With Pete McGrath taking on the under 21 job and the boon of a series of meaningful challenges in the shape of the North West Cup this Fermanagh panel is probably one of the best prepared sides from the county to take to the field in the Ulster championship in recent years.
The North West Cup saw Fermanagh lose in a hard fought encounter against Mayo in Belleek before turning over Donegal in Ballyshannon. They just missed out on a cup final place by a point despite a comprehensive victory against Sligo in the Bawnacre before losing the Shield final to the same opposition.
His squad assembled since last winter, those four games have given McGrath an invaluable insight into his resources and ensure the Fermanagh management go into this Ulster quarter-final with their eyes wide open.
“The panel has worked very hard,” said Pete McGrath. “I’ve had a lot of commitment from them and investment in time, effort and energy. On Wednesday night all that goes on the line. Yes it’s a big task going away from home against Monaghan who won the Ulster title three years ago as minors.
“We don’t underestimate what faces us, but we’ve prepared for this game and we have to go and perform. We have to give it our very best shot and if we do that I don’t think we’ll be that far away. But as I said to the players today it’s all about performing.”
McGrath will have a full squad to pick from as he heads to Inniskeen, and he will need that as Monaghan have shown good form in their own pre-season competition, the Shamrock cup.
They started that with a 0-16 to 2-9 win over Louth before losing out to Tyrone by six points. They bounced back from that defeat to book their place in the decider with a 0-13 to 0-4 demolition of an under-strength Antrim.
The Farney men lost out Tyrone on a scoreline of 0-16 to 0-10 in the final, but they will be well battle hardened and ready for their meeting with their neighbours.
Adam Treanor has been leading the way for them in the scoring stakes. He hit seven points against Tyrone first day out and five against Antrim, although much of those hauls came from frees. Also needing watching in the attack will be Barry McGinn and Conor McCarthy who accounted for 0-4 and 0-5 respectively against the Red Hands in the Shamrock Cup final.
It’s a tall order, but Fermanagh travel with quiet confidence.
See this week’s issue of the Fermanagh Herald for an exclusive interview with Fermanagh captain, Eoin McManus.
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