By Mark McGoldrick
“THIS is where we want to be.” The words of Fermanagh manager James Daly ahead of Sunday’s crunch National Football League Division Four semi-final against Leitrim.
A three-point win over Carlow and a comprehensive 13-point victory over London the last day out secured their place in the last four where the Erne ladies will come up against the former Fermanagh management duo of Jonny Garrity and Dermott Feely, who are now in charge of Leitrim.
Daly’s expecting what he refers to as a ‘bit of a side agenda’ to Sunday’s meeting, but he’s solely focused on the task of securing a league final place at Croke Park.
“There’ll be a wee bit extra in it for Jonny [Garrity], and I’m sure some of the Fermanagh girls will be looking to prove their point,” said the Erne manager.
“Leitrim are a very good team. We played them in the first round of the league last year and they throttled us.”
Leitrim head into the league semi-final unbeaten following easy wins against Wicklow, Limerick and Kilkenny. Daly knows his side will have to be on top of their game to overcome them.
“They’re a formidable team,” warned Daly. “They’ve a lot of good players in Viviene Egan, Leah Fox and Laura O’Dowd, to name a few. We know that Michelle Guckian is an exceptional figure for them and she’ll do an awful lot of controlling the football, so it’s up to us to try and take that away from them.”
Daly will have a full hand to choose from on Sunday, with star attackers Blaíthín Bogue, Lisa Maguire and Sarah McCarville available for selection. The Fermanagh boss is delighted to have his experienced players back and ready for action.
“In some games we’ve struggled for scores and sometimes we’ve been lacking the penetrating runs that Sarah [McCarville] gives us,” said the Erne boss.
“Lisa [Maguire] gives us that attacking dimension, and we all know what Blaíthín [Bogue] is capable of. It’s great that everyone is fit to play.”
In the third league round against London, Fermanagh conceded just six points, four from play.
Daly is pleased with their defensive structure and he’s keen to build on this as the season rolls on.
“It’s a work in progress,” said the Dromintee man. “The way that we set up, we’re never going to go out and hang 35 or 40 points on the board. Our first job is always going to be to set ourselves out to frustrate the other team, cut down their scoring and then see what we can score.”
Daly feels that a place in the Division Four league final is achievable for Fermanagh and he’s hoping that his players will seize the opportunity on Sunday.
“We want to be playing Division Three, growing from there and building from there.
“This is where we want to be and we want to push on from here, but it’s up to us now to get a performance against Leitrim.”