By Katrina Brennan
IT’S all to play for this Sunday when Fermanagh ladies travel to Kinnegad in Westmeath. A Division Three relegation battle with Wicklow awaits, with the winner staying up and the loser dropping down to Division Four.
In a repeat of the 2020 All-Ireland Junior final, Fermanagh will line out against the Leinster ladies and they’ll be hoping for the same outcome. Fermanagh landed the coveted title that day beating Wicklow 2-9 to 0-12 at Parnell Park and they will aim to come away with another victory on Sunday afternoon.
2020 is done and dusted now though, says Fermanagh manager Jonny Garrity.
“For us, last year is gone. We’re looking forward now. I’m not sure where their (Wicklow) focus is, but if it’s on last year, then we would be happy with that.
“We’re looking at this game as a new opportunity to go out and continue our progression. Last year was brilliant but it’s gone now.”
With all the starting team from the Junior final still available to Garrity, he is prepared for another hard fought match.
“We would expect it to be two teams battling, it could turn into something of a war. There won’t be much in it. It’s going to be a mental and physical battle and hopefully we can come out the right side of it.”
Wicklow are rooted to the bottom of Division 3B after losing two of their three matches, their only win coming against Laois in the third round. Fermanagh on the other hand, failed to win any of their games, losing by four points to Roscommon on the road the first day out, followed by a heavy defeat at home to Sligo. Their final round game against Down showed much improvement but the Erne ladies were beaten by two points in Brewster Park.
The condensed format has proven difficult for Fermanagh and a relegation play-off is certainly not what Garrity wanted to be staring him in the face.
“When you’re in a relegation play-off something has gone wrong, or fallen short of your expectations. We won’t try to paint this as a success but we can take a lot of positives from every performance.
“There was small margins in two of the three matches, where a decision here or there or a score here or there would probably have made the difference in a defeat and a victory. Winning any of those matches would have brought a completely different outlook, we could be looking at a semi-final rather than a relegation match.
“There has been a progression throughout the three games but we’re still feeling like we want to put a real performance together for the full hour and hopefully that’s on the way this weekend.”
Garrity believes consistency is the key to their success and so far, Fermanagh have struggled to find it.
“We haven’t been able to maintain all the components of our performance for a full hour as of yet.
“In the first 27 or 28 minutes of the Roscommon game we barely conceded a shot or goal chance but maybe the concentration or the focus has let us down, where the teams have scored a goal out of the blue. If and when we improve on that consistency, for the full hour, that’s when we’ll be able to close the door at the back and at the same time maintain a good scoring rate.”
The Fintona man admits, “It’s an important match, one we want to win and one we’re determined to win” but he is keen to put it in context too.
“We’re still going to have an Ulster campaign after that. Our success as a team will see ups and downs but over the long term we want to ensure the trajectory is in a positive manner. We’ll continue to do that, despite what the result may be, but undoubtedly we don’t want to drop back to Division Four after working so hard to get out of it.”
Fermanagh have a clean bill of health for the game and despite the last three defeats, Garrity said: “our destiny is in our own hands” and “the girls recognise the power of being optimistic and looking forward and not back and as long as they keep doing that, the tide will turn.”
“At the end of the day it’s 15 against 15, they have no advantage over us and we have to make it count on the day.”