McCusker ready to go again

By Katrina Brennan

IT’S been quite a pre-season for Fermanagh captain Declan McCusker and his wife Zara. Just over eight weeks ago they welcomed their first child Maisie into the world but the extra daddy duties haven’t knocked the Ederney man out of kilter in terms of his league preparation.

This weekend, in his third season as captain, 33 year-old McCusker will lead out the Erne men once more as they embark on their Division Two National League campaign.

McCusker admits doubts over his intercounty career did creep in last year after an early season injury hampered his pre-season preparation and by his own admission he struggled to get back into a team that was ‘flying’ in the league. A very disappointing Tailteann Cup followed with defeat to Laois and that didn’t sit well with McCusker;

“It just really annoyed me because we were so good during the league and when you should be upping it for the championship we didn’t and then teams around us did.

“It (retirement) did cross my mind that maybe that’s me, maybe I’m done. But, I still had it in the back of my mind that I knew I wanted to go back out and when I mentioned it to my wife Zara she said ‘you’re definitely not finished yet, I want you to go back out’ so, that made it a lot easier.

“Definitely, at the minute, it feels like the right choice.”

McCusker isn’t saying it’s his last season, but he’s not saying it’s not either.

“It’s like a one-year rolling contract at the minute, I’ll just see at the end of the year. If I don’t get on well personally, it will be the end.”

Saturday will be the first real marker for this Fermanagh team to see where they are at with a trip to Páirc Tailteann to play the reigning Tailteann Cup champions, Meath. McCusker says it’s a ‘step up’, with quality opposition Kildare, Armagh Donegal, Cork, Louth and Cavan lying in wait.

But, McCusker is undaunted by the task and believes the squad will rise to the challenge.

“You want to play at the highest level possible, that’s what gets you up for games. You’re going to play Donegal up in Donegal – it’s a massive game. If you can’t get up for something like that, there’s something wrong. It’s going to be a massive challenge.

“I think sometimes when you play stronger teams you step up and when you play weaker teams you sort of drop your own level a wee bit. So, it’s up to us going into division two that we step up for every game,” says the Ederney man.

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