Lidl Ladies Football National League
Fermanagh v Roscommon
Sunday, 2pm, tbc
FERMANAGH got up and running at the third time of asking when they overcame Longford at the weekend, but manager Jonny Garrity never lost faith in his charges.
On paper, it looked like the Erne Gaels had a ropey enough start to Division Three football, losing their opening two matches, but in reality they were massively competitive against both Kildare and Down.
Down ladies joint-manager Peter Lynch gave high praise to their opponents in a Gaelic Life interview a few weeks back, saying they’d definitely stay up, and as things stand they’re third from bottom with only the team that finishes dead last falling through the relegation trapdoor.
Their manager Jonny Garrity, who is in his second year in charge of the team, says he was delighted with his side’s patience as they claimed a 2-6 to 0-8 victory over Longford.
“It was a bit of a battle and scores were hard to come by for both teams. From our point of view it was an exercise in staying composed and being patient, and taking the chances when they came our way. I felt we did that brilliantly – it was a really mature and composed performance.”
Fermanagh are aiming to avoid the dreaded yo-yo team tag. They lasted one year in Division Three in 2018 before claiming last year’s Division Four league title. While they aren’t setting the world alight at the minute, there’s no doubt that their doggedness is making life difficult for their opponents, and they produced some good football as well in their inagural league win. Fintona native Garrity says he was always confident that the win was coming.
“We were really confident that the win was on the way. There was no panic at all. We knew this was coming and felt that our shape was excellent defensively. We looked very composed but offensively I think there’s more to come from us – it was a great result but we have to build on it and I see no reason why we won’t do that.”
Elaborating on that statement, Garrity admits that they aren’t quite the finished article in attack despite calling upon one of the best sharpshooters in Ulster, Eimear Smyth. If they can strike the right balance they could climb up the table in the coming weeks.
“The team maybe has a greater understanding of the defensive element of the gameplan at the moment, and that’s probably by design as we want to make sure we have a solid base to build from.
“I think as the season progresses we’ll get stronger offensively as well but generally our game is in a good place and we’re very happy with where we’re at right now.”
As you’ll know only too well, the weather has been dire over the last few weeks between Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis. There’s snow forecast for much of this week as well, and although it’s made life difficult, they’ve done their best in the circumstances. Garrity also envisions that this weekend’s match against Roscommon at Derrygonnelly will go ahead as scheduled.
“It certainly hasn’t helped but we’ve managed to do our sessions one way or the other and we’re driving the thing forward as best we can. We’ve a match at the weekend to look forward to an that helps – we don’t want to slow down and we’re still going strong.”
Even though the gap isn’t major, there’s still a difference in quality between Division Three and Division Four. So far Sligo are the only team that looks out of their depth, whereas in the bottom flight there are a number of poor teams.
“The majority of teams in Division Four could compete in Division Three, but you could guarantee a couple of easier fixtures. It’s a lot different in that respect. You have to bring your best game every weekend but hopefully playing against high calibre opponents will stand to us as the season goes on.”
Fermanagh still have a game to play against Sligo, but it’s of critical importance that they don’t assume that match will end in victory.
“If Sligo were to beat us, we could drop below them on a head-to-head basis so we’re conscious we need another win.
“At the same time we’re not going out desperately looking for the points, we’re just playing our game and we do that we think we’ll be good enough to get the points we did.”
Fermanagh take on Roscommon this weekend, who have won two of their three matches to date. Garrity knows they’ll need another good performance if they’re to have any chance of beating the Rossies.
“Roscommon are a team that’s well-established at this level. They’re a battle-hardened physically strong side and it’ll take another good performance for us to come away with something, but we’ve full faith in our ability to do that with the quality we have.”