Lochside Garage

Garrity plays cards close to chest ahead of rematch

“This game will be completely different from the league final” admits Fermanagh manager Johnny Garrity as he prepares his side for an Ulster semi-final clash with Antrim at Armagh on Sunday.
It’s just over a month since the sides met in Clones, Garrity’s side sealing the Division 4 league title in a thrilling contest. The Erne boss expects his opposite number Sean O’Kane to be using that loss to the Saffs advantage.
“We enjoyed the league, we got promotion but the championship and this game will be different as I said. We are fully aware that Antrim and indeed Derry will be chomping at the bit, two good teams, but all we can and have focus on is this game with Antrim.”
There were celebrations after winning that elusive league title, but the manager was happy with the way his players have applied themselves in training since. There’s a hunger for more success and the Tyrone native says the attitude and drive to excel was there in spades.
“We have worked hard over the past few weeks to ensure that we will be a better team from the one in that league final.”
It wouldn’t be a championship without a hiccup or two, a reshuffle on the goalkeeping front was needed with first choice Roisin Gleeson ruled out this weekend and Aisling Healy opting out of the set up a couple of weeks ago, Garrity drafted in Enniskillen Gaels star Shauna Murphy, Cleona Bogue from Tempo and Aghadrumsee’s Sarah Keenan.
“All three have been excellent,” said Garrity. “They are all ready for the game, we have to select two for the squad, and that will be tough.”
Apart from the goalkeeping switches and a few niggles it all systems go then.
Meanwhile, Antrim have been quiet in their preparations, they will look once again to a strong mix of youth and experience as they tackle the Erne girls again. They pressed them all the way in the heat of Clones and looking ahead this may not be the last meeting of these two Counties this year. Winning in Ulster though is not easy but is it a necessity for Fermanagh?
“We wouldn’t say necessarily it’s a necessity, but we firmly believe that if we implement our game plan to the full extent of our ability we will be hard to stop,” said Garrity.
There’s an air of cautious optimism around the Fermanagh camp, but like Antrim winning this junior title would be another tick in the targets box.
Antrim manager O’Kane, another Tyrone man incidentally, set out his stall at the launch of the Ulster championship in April when he said, “We want to win the Ulster title and then take it from there.”
But Garrity too wants that piece of silverware before the end of the month.
“For sure, winning Ulster is definitely on our list of objectives, but as I have said all year, it’s one game at a time, Antrim next.”
Things are changing in Antrim ladies football, they have been heavily promoting the fact that after winning a first A grade Ulster title in the spring, that same u14 side are through to an All-Ireland semi-final, O’Kane says that success is rubbing off on the senior set-up.
“There’s a lot of work going on, it’s about development and Antrim are doing things right. Seeing what’s coming through is making everyone excited, it gives us an extra lift.”
Since taking over O’Kane has brought a handful of minors into his team.
The league final was a real rollercoaster and there’s no doubt the Saffrons will provide Fermanagh players and management with plenty to think about on Sunday.
“I have no doubts they will provide us with a stern test,” said Garrity. “But I confident in my players and what they can bring to the table.
“We are happy with the way we have trained coming into this game and we are going into it full of confidence, full of determination, we are up for it”
While both managers may well feel that the league final will have no real bearing on Sunday afternoon’s clash in Armagh, there is no doubt that Fermanagh’s victory back in Clones has added some expectations. Johnny Garrity, still in his debut season, is quick to point out that this is a new competition.
“It is, and with it comes a new set of opportunities, to that end we are excited and eager to get started”
Sunday’s game throws-in at 5pm and is part of a double bill with the first of the senior ladies semi-finals between Armagh and Monaghan.

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