Fermanagh head into top of the table clash

By Michael McMullan

FERMANAGH have their eyes on a top four finish and a chance to go on better than last year by booking a league final spot.

They host Leitrim on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s league semi-final that the Erne County lost by two points.

Under new manager CJ McGourty, Fermanagh are unbeaten after three games.

Their only blot was shipping a late, late goal in an away draw with Carlow before bouncing back with victory over Wicklow in round three.

Fermanagh will be pushing for success on all three fronts – the league, Ulster and All-Ireland Championships.

All three competitions are independent of one another with league the only focus for now.

“Last year, we thought we were really unlucky against Leitrim in the semi-final,” Courtney Murphy said of their extra-time showdown.

“We are keen to make it to the top four, to get into the semi-final and then hopefully into the final, to go one step closer than last year.”

Looking back at their draw in Carlow, a game played in terrible conditions at the end of a three-hour spin down the road, there was disappointment.

“It was terrible conditions and winter football at its best,” recalled Murphy, a key cog in Kinawley’s six-in-a-row success at club level.

“There was a strong wind in the first half and you were happy going in at half-time

“In the second half, they had a 10 or 15-minute spell at the end when they took away our lead.

“They got a fortunate enough goal in the last play. It was an away game and three hours down the road so it wasn’t bad to get a point from it.

“We were disappointed with the ending but thankfully we had a good performance last week against Wicklow to bounce back.”

Now it’s about Leitrim and the added sub plot of former Fermanagh manager Jonny Garrity in the opposition camp this weekend.

“Most of the girls would be familiar with his style of play and it adds a different dimension to playing Leitrim,” Murphy said.

“Ballinamore did really well, getting to the All-Ireland intermediate final, and they have strong players in Leitrim.”

While “one or two” of the Fermanagh would’ve played under their new manager McGourty in their days with Queen’s, the new Erne boss is bringing a fresh broom.

“A new manager always freshens things up. It brings new girls into the panel who have never been there before.

“There are a lot of new faces, young girls, and that is really good. We have a really big squad which is good for training so there is competition for places.

“A new manager brings a bit of the unknown and everybody is there to prove themselves to the management team and fight for places.”

The other Ulster team in action in Division Four this weekend is Derry who are still searching a first win when they take on Wicklow in Aughrim. In the remaining games, Kilkenny host Carlow with Limerick at home to Longford.

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