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‘We can beat anyone in the competition’ says Cassidy

When Fermanagh played Longford in the league back at the end of February, Fermanagh full back Jonny Cassidy had to sit it out because of a hip injury. Watching on, the Enniskillen Gaels man knows the sending off of Longford’s captain, Michael Quinn, had a big bearing on the game that day;

“It was nip and tuck until Mickey Quinn got sent off, there wasn’t really much between the two teams. Then, once Longford lost their main man, Mickey Quinn, they kind of just fell apart and we got a lot of space, getting Sean Quigley on the ball, Ryan Jones coming late on the ball kicking points and Conall (Jones) the same. We just dominated the game after that, which is expected with 14 men against 15.”

This time around, Cassidy knows it’ll be a very different challenge with 15 versus 15 and the talented man marker is looking forward to playing his part;

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“We’ve been training well over the last number of weeks, so it’s good over the last week to have a focus on Longford now. I’m happy to go at it.”

Cassidy made his Fermanagh debut in 2019 against UUJ in the McKenna Cup under Rory Gallagher and since then has really cemented his place in the Erne starting 15.

Last month he was handed the mammoth task of marshalling one of the top forwards in the country, Darren McCurry, in Fermanagh’s Ulster preliminary round match against Tyrone. The Enniskillen man kept the ‘Dazzler’ relatively quiet by his standards, with 0-6, but only two of those were from open play.

Going head to head with the top forwards is something that the Gaels man relishes;

“I enjoy marking the teams’ better forwards, it’s a good challenge, you want to play against the best, so it never really concerns me.”
Looking back at their performance against Tyrone, he says;

“Playing against a team like Tyrone, last year’s All Ireland champions, it’s good to see where you’re at against the best of the best. I thought we did well in the first half, competed well against them, we probably should’ve been going in at half time in front. But then, things just kind of fell apart in the second half, Tyrone just ran at us and their quality just showed in the last quarter.”

This weekend could potentially be their last challenge of the season, if they don’t overcome Longford, and Cassidy knows it’s do or die;
“We need to turn up on the day and really go at them and be brave on the ball and stop conceding sloppy goals like we have been in the league. We need to keep it compact at the back and I’m sure our scorers can do the rest” says the 23 year old.

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“We’d be confident that we can beat anyone in the competition. There’s probably three or four teams that could go on and win it, as shown in the league this year. Every team was beaten, from top to bottom in the league. Whoever turns up on the day can go on and win it and the fact that it’s knockout makes it more exciting.”

The Tailteann Cup has not been short of its critics but Cassidy says he’s looking forward to playing in the competition;

“There’s definitely been a buzz around training the last number of weeks. I know people might not think it for the Tailteann Cup but we really believe it’s something that we can win and we want to push on and go far in this competition.

“There’s a lot of great incentives; Fermanagh don’t really play in Croke Park that often, if we push on and get a few wins there’s always that incentive of playing in Croke Park.

“Getting days out in Croke Park is great for anyone and if you don’t want to push on and play in Croke Park, you probably shouldn’t be there.

“And then of course, if you go on and win it, the team holiday” which is another big incentive for the 17 teams competing in the new competition.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA