By Mark McGoldrick
RYAN Jones says Fermanagh’s target must be to ‘win the Tailteann Cup’ as the Erne men prepare for Sunday’s group stage opener when they face Wexford in Brewster Park.
“We have to really look to win it,” said the Erne midfielder, “there are a few other teams who are at that level (that could win it) and our focus must be to try and top the group.”
Fermanagh is currently 7/1 to lift the title later this summer and very much expected to top their group, which consists of two Division Four teams, Wexford and Leitrim, along with Antrim.
Derrygonnelly midfielder Jones feels that it is important that the Erne men top the group, as they bid for a long run in the Tailteann Cup series.
“[Topping the group] gives you a wee bit of an extra rest, with the week off,” he explained, “and winning games, if we win our three games, we will keep the good momentum going.”
But he isn’t taking their opposition for granted, especially not Wexford, the side Fermanagh take on this Sunday in the Tailteann Cup first round.
“I don’t know too much about them (Wexford) as we haven’t played them in a few years, but I know that they’re a big, physical and athletic team,” said 33-year-old Jones.
“They were unlucky in Division Four and they were in the shake-up for promotion and they just missed out.
“We know that they’re going to be coming up to give us a real game, and if we’re not fully at it on Sunday, they’re going to be very tricky opposition.”
While Jones’ focus is solely on Wexford, he admits that he’s looking forward to playing against Leitrim in the second round, the county where he owns his own pharmacy with Enniskillen’s John Slowey.
“There should be a good buzz in the workplace and I’m looking forward to it,” said the Drumshambo pharmacist, “it’s the second match and it’s down in Leitrim, but we’ll have to put the excitement on hold for now as both teams will really want to get off to a good start this weekend.”
Since Fermanagh exited the Ulster Championship at the hands of Derry, over a month ago, the Erne men have been working hard on the training pitch, in anticipation for the Tailteann Cup.
“We took a week off after the Derry game and we had a good break, but we’ve been back since then and we’ve got some good work done,” said Jones.
“The boys have been pushing hard in training and ready to go at a competition which we feel that we can do well in.”
And the Fermanagh man feels that the Erne side has learned a lot from their humbling 12-point defeat to the Ulster finalists.
“Derry was a tough game and they did something similar to Monaghan, so if we can take the learnings from that and push on in the Tailteann Cup, we should be in a good place,” said Jones.
“We’ve had a good league and we’re looking forward now to Sunday.”