Donnelly urges young players to step up

By Mark McGoldrick

FERMANAGH manager Kieran Donnelly is urging the younger Erne players to step up and ‘fill the boots’ of Seán Quigley, Ryan Jones and Conall Jones, who recently withdrew from the county panel.

On Monday, Fermanagh GAA confirmed that the experienced trio, who between them have made 331 appearances for their county over the past 12 seasons, are now stepping away from inter-county football due to “unavoidable work and travel commitments”.

“The three of them have given great service over the past number of years,” Donnelly told the Fermanagh Herald.

“They’ve played consistently well for several seasons which is no mean feat.

“These players can hold their heads up and know that they’ve contributed to the county and it’s now up to the younger cohort of players to step up and fill their boots.”

According to official stats, from 2010 to 2022, Ryan Jones was Fermanagh’s most experienced player, making 136 appearances for the Erne men, with 125 starts. His brother Conall has had 74 outings for Fermanagh.

Quigley, meanwhile, has played 121 times for the Erne county and he was a key player for Fermanagh last season, hitting match-winning goals against Down and Antrim in the National Football League.

Fermanagh will compete in Division Two of the Allianz National Football League, with a trip to Meath first up for Donnelly’s side.

Despite the absence of the experienced campaigners, the Erne boss said there’s a real sense of optimism and excitement within the Fermanagh camp, who officially kicked off their pre-season training last Friday night.

“It’s good to get back together. The younger lads are really keen and there’s some excellent young talent in the county and I feel that the majority (of new players) have integrated well into the squad,” said Donnelly.

“I always feel that, as a county, we’re best when we’re written off and not given a chance.

“There’s a real freshness (in the squad) ahead of the start of the season.”

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