By Niall Gartland
FERMANAGH hurler Daniel Teague is confident that their Lory Meagher final victory over Cavan can be a launching pad for even greater success in the future.
Teague picked up his second medal following their surprisingly one-sided victory over the Breffni county (the final scoreboard read 3-26 to 1-17 in their favour), but just as importantly, they’ve now achieved promotion to the ranks of the Nickey Rackard Cup competition.
Asked if he’s confident they can make the big step up, he said: “Absolutely. We’ve played a lot against Tyrone down the years and they’re consistently making their mark in the Nickey Rackard.
“We beat Sligo in the Lory Meagher in 2015, they bounced back in 2016 and they’re now playing in the Christy Ring.
“It just goes to show you, that if you have a good crop of players willing to put in the effort then genuine progress can be made.”
Fermanagh were full value for their victory at Croke Park. They were dominant in every sector, but it’d be remiss not to mention Tom Keenan, who finished his day with 3-2 to his name, while Teague and his midfield partner Conor McShea were imperious throughout.
And it wasn’t as if they were red-hot favourites to prevail; Cavan drew against Fermanagh in the league, and actually edged the Erne county in a group stage clash in the Lory Meagher competition.
Dual star Teague said: “They beat Louth in the semi finals and that was a huge result for them, especially as they beat us in the final last year.
“In fairness Cavan have generally got the better of us the last half a dozen times we’ve met. It was always the same thing that cost us – bloody frees.
“They’ve a damned good free-taker (Brian Fitzgerald) and he was hitting double digit figures every day, and that was guaranteeing Cavan at least 10 points a game.
“We respected them but we also felt that they played a type of game that was geared towards making them damn hard to beat, so we knew the importance of keeping our composure.”
Teague says that Fermanagh hurling is in rude health at the moment. Not only has there been an influx of young players into the squad, but a number of new clubs catering for kids have cropped up against the county.
He’s a Lisbellaw hurler himself, the only senior team in the county at present, so hopefully they’ll have a bit more competition in future years.
“Things have definitely improved and there’s a Facebook group that has taken off and is going really well.
“It’s needed, we were kinda in the doldrums for a few years. The senior squad wasn’t going well, and while I wouldn’t want to be critical of the people engaged in development work behind the scenes, it seems like things had drifted a bit.
“In fairness there’s been a lot of hard work, and the young boys who have come into the senior squad have been unreal. I remember when I first started playing for Fermanagh, my hurling wasn’t at their level, so it bodes well for us going forward.”
Teague also paid tribute to backroom member Rory O’Donnell, while other men deserving of mention include manager Joe Baldwin, Ollie McShea, Mary McElroy and Stephen Smith.
“Once I heard Rory O’Donnell was involved I knew things were going places. He coached me at underage level and we’d a good bit of success, winning Ulster ‘B’ competitions.
“You want to play for Rory, he’s a massively motivating character. In the past playing for Fermanagh was almost easy, but things have changed and it’s become a more serious set-up.”