Former Fermanagh star McCluskey joins backroom panel

RECENTLY appointed Fermanagh manager, Kieran Donnelly has confirmed his backroom team for the season ahead.

The Brookeborough man will be assisted by his Omagh CBS teaching colleague Fergal Quinn along with Ryan McCluskey as coach and Pat Cadden as goalkeeping coach. Niall Smyth, Ger Treacy and Stephen Jackson will work under the ‘umbrella’ of selectors/statistical analysts/logistics and Leon Carters will remain as the Fermanagh strength and conditioning coach.

Donnelly has spent the last month bringing together his team and says;

“I wanted to get it right and I’m extremely happy with the men I have lined up and I’m looking forward to getting started. For us as a management team, it was important to get it finalised and to get around all the club championship games.”

Aside from Dromore man, Fergal Quinn, Donnelly has opted to stay within the county, calling on the expertise of his fellow Fermanagh Gaels.

Ryan McCluskey, played for Fermanagh for 19 years, retiring from intercounty football in 2018 and will bring a wealth of experience to the set-up. He is currently managing Tyrone club side Beragh, who ply their trade at Intermediate level and are looking forward to a quarter final in a couple of weeks, after beating Naomh Eoghan comprehensively in the first round.

“As a player Ryan, has been with one of our best players down through the years, within Fermanagh and Ulster and comes with that experience of playing at a high, elite level.

“He comes with a coaching background and is currently a manager with Beragh, so that all combined, made a perfect fit for myself and for him to get his views and ideas across to the players as well.”

Similarly, former Fermanagh goalkeeper and St Patrick’s forward, Pat Cadden is also involved in club management with Division Two side Aghadrumsee. Cadden will undertake the responsibility of goalkeeping coach but has had a taste of the county management set-up when he was in Ollie Fay’s Fermanagh Under 20s backroom team for two years. The role of the keeper is one Donnelly is putting great emphasis on.

“The way that goalkeeping has evolved over the past ten years, goalkeeping is one of the most important coach’s in your setup. Pat, as well as being a goalkeeping coach, he worked with the under 20s and he’s a manager in his own right and we want to make sure everyone starts off on a level playing field this year, so Pat knows all the players inside out in division two with his role as Aghadrumsee manager, as well as being a player himself under Rory (Gallagher) in goals and outfield under myself and Peter (Canavan) the last time. So he comes with a vast array of experience and ticks a lot of boxes.”

Niall Smyth, Ger Treacy and Stephen Jackson were also an obvious selection for Donnelly, who says;

“Jet’s (Ger) passion for Fermanagh football is unparalleled and he’s a good friend as well. His knowledge of the game is excellent. He brings that experience and organisation and a general drive for Fermanagh to do well.

“Niall with Derrygonnelly, is probably one of the main reasons why Derrygonnelly has been so successful over this past number of years. His detail and his analysis of games and knowledge of football on top of that is excellent. Niall was vital to our set-up and it was great to get him in because the way the game is moving, that is an area that is vital, fine detail and small margins in bigger games.

“Stephen has been involved in that role (statistical analyst) this past number of years. There’s that continuity with previous setups and knowing what is expected, as well as the fact he is a manager in his own right for Tempo, so he knows the players within the county as well. He brings that bit of experience.

Maintaining continuity from the McMenamin era has been important to a large degree for Donnelly, particularly in terms of strength and conditioning. With Leon Carters once again on board, Donnelly says,

“Leon knows the players and their details and player profiles and what they’re capable of. His experience in strength and conditioning is excellent and he has a good way with him in terms of the players and gets on very well with them.”

With his team now in place, Donnelly and co. will “run their eye over the championship” which starts on Friday evening with Kinawley taking on Roslea. While he won’t be able to be in Brewster for that game himself because of his commitments with Cavan Gaels who have a game on Friday evening, he plans to be at ever other match and can rest assured that Ger Treacy and Niall Smyth will be there to take note of any Kinawley or Roslea players that catch the eye.

“We just need to find players who are hungry to play for the county and have the ability to play for the county, so the best way to see that is through the club championship” says Donnelly.

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