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Donnelly ready for a tough game with Westmeath

After a disappointing performance by Kieran Donnelly’s side last Sunday when they succumbed to their second defeat of the campaign, the Brookeborough man, like everyone in Brewster Park, knew the goals conceded in the first half were their downfall.

“We were looking to back our last two games with another win and it just didn’t happen for us. The two goals was the killer for us.

“We wanted to have a good start and while we recovered well after the first goal, the second goal was a real killer. We really switched off on that one and we really just seemed to be chasing the game the whole day.”

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Louth was impressive, under Mickey Harte they looked organised, fit and well drilled but most of all they were physically superior to Fermanagh which oftentimes led to turnovers. Donnelly was not surprised by the endeavour Harte’s men brought to Brewster Park;

“We knew they were a big team and they came with two really big wins, in beating Westmeath and Limerick, so we knew their confidence was going to be high. We had watched them enough and we knew their size in the middle and Sam Mulroy is by far the best forward we have came up against all year, so there’s no doubt we were prepared for them as much as we could but size was a key strength of theirs.”

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that Fermanagh are a team in transition, with four players starting on Sunday under the age of 22. The experienced garnered from these matches will stand those players like Cian Newman, Jonny Cassidy, Luke Flanagan and Brandon Horan in good stead.

Fermanagh had far from ideal preparations leading into this game after a vomiting bug swept through the squad, affecting as many as eight players. Donnelly is not using it as an excuse but certainly believes it did have an impact on his players’ preparations.

“There’s no doubt they were (feeling the impact) but it still doesn’t excuse the mistakes we made for the two goals. That wasn’t anything to do with the illness but the fatigue felt during the game for certain players was evident, I felt anyway.

“It was a real tough week, a lot of these players have’t trained all week, were touch and go even before the game, so there’s no doubt that was a factor. It was a very disruptive week; we couldn’t really do anything collectively but I still felt, we don’t make those mistakes and we still should have won the game.”

Fermanagh has conceded eight goals to date in the league, something Donnelly will be concerned about as they prepare to take on third placed Westmeath and fourth placed Limerick over the next two weekends.

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“I felt our defensive shape was very good against Laois and yesterday (Sunday) was the same. It was just individual errors. I felt we just weren’t set up properly for the throw-up. I feel we’re solid enough looking at times but I feel it’s just lapses in concentration.

“There’s no doubt, coming up against two good teams, we’re really going to have to up the ante and concentration levels against two good forward lines.”

Fermanagh will again be without their captain Declan McCusker this weekend as he recovers from a calf injury but Donnelly says they’ll take some positives to Mullingar ;

“I felt there was some good scores, I felt we reacted well after the goals and we still brought it back to two points in the second half. You take the two goals out of it and the stats proved it as well, the game was even. If we had taken our two goals chances in the first half, football really is as simple as that, they took their goal chances, we missed ours.”

Fermanagh now find themselves in a precarious position and the main focus now will be to avoid relegation.

“We just have to focus on trying to win the next game and see where that takes us, you’re looking up and you’re looking down. They’re two tough games now, so we don’t make it easy for ourselves, especially with the way injuries are as well. We’re just going to have to concentrate and they’re two away fixtures but that’s when we often get our best performances, when we’re least expected to.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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