Donnelly hopeful his players will step up to mark against Armagh

By Katrina Brennan

FERMANAGH manager Kieran Donnelly will have little time to dwell on Sunday’s defeat to Cork as he readies his team for another massive challenge this Saturday evening with the visit of Armagh.

The Orchard men are currently top of Division Two, having drawn with second-placed Donegal last weekend in the Athletic Grounds.

Kieran McGeeney’s side have recorded two resounding wins against Meath in round one, where they won 2-16 to 0-10, followed by an away victory to Kildare, again notching 2-16 to the Lilywhites’ 0-8.

Their defence has been pretty watertight and they’ve leaked no goals so far. So, could this be the week Blaine Hughes has to pick one out of his net?

“To beat these teams you do need goals and Blaine Hughes coming in has been solid for them – their six (defenders) appear really solid. Aidan Forker leads that and Greg McCabe, so there’s a continuity with their back six,” acknowledged Donnelly.

“They are a tough tackling team, a physically imposing team, so it’s going to be a tough challenge. That is their strength and their league record proves that this year that they have maintained that standard.”

It’s a formidable task for the Erne men but in their last home league game this season, it’s one where Donnelly hopes they can produce a performance;

“We know the level we’re at now and Division Two was always going to be game-on-game difficult, so we just have to look to keep improving and we’ll look to take the positives from last week into it but we will have to bring a high energy game to the likes of Armagh to break them down.

“They have hands and players that can win ball for them in most lines on the pitch, so they ask plenty of questions. They are athletic and they’re mobile and they’re physical in key areas of the pitch. Like all these games, there has to be a mental switch-on for the whole 70 minutes.”

Last weekend against Donegal, Armagh brought star man Rian O’Neill off the bench for his first appearance this season. Jarly Óg Burns was also drafted in with both players chipping in with a point apiece.

But Donnelly is looking forward to going up against the league leaders nevertheless and even on the whistle last Sunday, had no doubt about his players’ appetite for this match;

“I think if you come out of here (Ederney) and got beat by eight or nine points, or you didn’t have a performance – then yes, it’s hard to lift it.

“But this Fermanagh team are a good side, they’re playing good football, they’re a great group of young lads and we just have to bring that collective attitude and focus into the next three games and there’s no doubt they will.”

Fermanagh coughed up possession and dropped a number of shots short against Cork, it’s these elementary mistakes that they’ll need to eradicate if they’re to stand a chance;

“That was our Achilles’ heel on Sunday. I suppose that’s the difference in Division Two; you drop two short or give away the ball and they go up the field and score and that’s exactly what happened. Good teams punish you for those mistakes – maybe not so much in (division) three or four. We have to continue to tidy those up,” said the Erne boss.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere


Gaelic Life is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 10-14 John Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, N. Ireland, BT781DW