By Katrina Brennan
‘CHARACTER’, ‘focus’ and ‘performance’ – they are just a few of the keywords Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly used as he reflected on the Westmeath game and looks ahead to Cavan this weekend.
Fermanagh once again showed great character to stave off a second half Westmeath comeback and keep themselves in promotion contention.
A win or a draw will rubberstamp promotion to Division Two this weekend, while a defeat means they’ll be hoping for Down to do them a favour against Offaly.
Donnelly, who managed Cavan Gaels before he took up the Fermanagh post, knows better than most what theBreffni County are about, and while the game is of no consequence to Mickey Graham’s already promoted side, he is not going to get caught up in that.
“I don’t pre-empt anything with Mickey Graham. I’ve probably enough to know what myself and our own team (will do). I can’t read any other manager’s mind. I’ve great respect for Mickey and have a lot of good friends in Cavan from my time up there, and me and Mickey are friendly,” Donnelly said.
“Every team prepares with whatever they feel is best for themselves and that will be up to Mickey what way he approaches this game but that’s something I haven’t even thought about. It’s solely down to how we prepare and what we can control and how we can prepare for Sunday.”
Fermanagh will be without their lively forward Ciaran Corrigan this weekend after the Maguiresbridge man suffered a broken hand in an innocuous challenge. The break rules Corrigan out for a minimum of six weeks, meaning he will also miss Fermanagh’s Ulster Championship opener with Derry, but Donnelly is hopeful he will be back for the latter part of the season.
“It’s really disappointing for him. He’s a player that really epitomises what you look to create in a squad.
“He’s a massive team player, I couldn’t speak highly enough of him that way.
“His attitude in and around the squad has been first class in team meetings and the way he is with the younger players around the squad. He has been a massive plus in these games and the energy he brings off the bench, and that’s a role he has accepted and got on with.”
Fermanagh’s strength in depth will be well matched by Cavan’s richness in resources. Against Antrim last weekend they started without Gearóid McKiernan, Conor Madden, James Smith, Jason McLoughlin and Niall Carolan to name a few.
While McKiernan, Smith and Madden all came on – McKiernan hit two points and 45th minute sub Madden bagged 1-2 – they fell just short but the result didn’t impact their promotion hopes, with them safely stepping up to Division Two
Fermanagh have scraped through a few games in the league, against Down, Antrim and Tipperary, they’ve produced some heart-stopping moments.
Donnelly knows it will take a massive effort to turn over the Breffni men on their home turf but he has full faith in his squad.
“Our boys have responded really well to every challenge this year, their focus and their attitude has been massive.
“It’s a big one, it’s going to be our toughest game and all we can do is control the controllables; our attitude and the way we want to play the game on Sunday, and hope that’s enough.
“The boys have had a tremendous campaign to date and we’re very determined to keep that going at the weekend.
“We’ve done nothing easy all year, so it wouldn’t have felt right if we had been going into next weekend with the job already done.”