By Mark McGoldrick
FERMANAGH midfielder Ryan Jones is relishing the opportunity of playing for Fermanagh in Croke Park, five years after he last set foot on the hallowed Dublin sod wearing the Erne jersey.
“We’ll go down to Croke Park and try and represent ourselves well,” he said after Sunday’s win over Cavan.
“We’ve a good squad and there’s a real good buzz around the place. We’re delighted to get back to Croke Park and back to Division Two.”
Jones put in a solid performance for Fermanagh in Breffni Park, controlling the ball, setting up Erne attacks and kicking three much-needed scores in the second half. He was pleased with his own individual performance.
“It was going to go down to the wire, so you’ve got to just back yourself and thankfully I got myself into the positions and they went over the bar,” said the Derrygonnelly man.
“Every score counts and at the end of the day it’s a team game, and it’s great to get over the line.”
Jones is one of the more experienced players in the Fermanagh team. He’s full of praise for how the younger Erne players have stepped up over the course of the league campaign.
“There’s good character in the squad and I’ve no doubt we can push on now,” said the pharmacist.
“We’ve had a number of setbacks this week. Think back to the Down game, the Antrim game, even Westmeath last week, but we came back and won it.”
The Fermanagh midfielder acknowledges the hard-working Fermanagh management team, who believed the ‘goal’ of securing promotion to the Division Two was always possible.
“The management has done a really good job and we’re all in a good place,” said Jones.
“Last year was Kieran’s (Donnelly) first year and it probably takes a wee while to get to know the group and get to know your players and their different strengths.
“This year though we have got a very, very strong squad and there’s boys pushing for the 26. It shows what training is all about. You’ve got to be on it every night because the man beside you is pushing just as hard.”
But Jones knows that Fermanagh will face a stiff challenge from Cavan on Saturday in GAA Headquarters.
“We know Cavan’s strengths, they obviously know us very well too, so it will be tough again,” he anticipates.
“I’m sure Cavan will be gunning for us the next day, so it will make for a good league final.”