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Donnelly has ‘nothing but credit’ for his players

IT doesn’t come much tougher than the All-Ireland champions in your first season in charge as manager but Kieran Donnelly and Fermanagh met the challenge head on to their credit. There was no ‘parking the bus’, the Erne men attacked this game as much as their counterparts and by half time they trailed by a single score.

“The stats backed it up at half time, that we were on top” said Donnelly afterwards. “We had the shots but our shot to score ratio was letting us down, those couple of goal chances. We were causing them bother when we were running at them, our hand speed was quick and we were cutting them open a couple of times – that was pleasing, but I just felt if we had went in three or four up at half time it would’ve given us that cushion because we knew they would come at us with their pace and power.”

Fermanagh’s tactics proved in the first half fruitful. They were running at Tyrone and winning their fair share of ball in the middle. The difference really boiled down to being clinical. While Fermanagh spurned goal chances, Tyrone took theirs when it fell to Meyler in the 32nd minute. At that stage Fermanagh were two up and goal was a real blow for the Erne men at a crucial time.

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Donnelly admitted it was a key moment:

“That goal was a sucker-punch but that’s what good teams do. We were very aware of their pace all over the pitch but we couldn’t mark all the pace in certain areas and Conor (Meyler) was causing us loads of problems, that was the problem in the first half. He’s an excellent player, we were struggling to get to grips with him in the first half.”

Meyler wasn’t the only player that gave Fermanagh problems, the introduction of Conor McKenna in the second half also posed its difficulties but despite all that, the young Erne side, with an average age of 24, never surrendered. A fact that really pleased Donnelly:

“I’m pleased with how the boys responded because it’s tough when that’s going against you and it’s a young team and the All-Ireland champions are coming at you.

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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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