Familiar terrain for the footballers of Fermanagh and Antrim

By Katrina Brennan

IT’S familiar territory for Fermanagh and Antrim this Saturday evening when they go head-to-head in Brewster Park in the Tailteann Cup quarter-final.

While Fermanagh had no game last weekend after topping their group and booking a home quarter-final, Antrim had to contend with London in Corrigan Park in the preliminary quarter-final and it was far from comfortable for the Saffrons at times.

Two Ruairi McCann (Aghagallon) goals, one in added time, saw off the threat of a huge upset as they won out 3-11 to 2-10, but Andy McEntee will be expecting more from his side when they journey to Enniskillen this weekend.

Fermanagh played Antrim in early January in the Dr McKenna Cup, coming away from Ahoghill with a one-point win. Previous to that, the two teams played this time last year in the final Tailteann Cup group game. In that meeting, Antrim won by seven points, 3-13 to 1-12 at the Athletic Grounds.

Erne manager Kieran Donnelly won’t put too much onus on those games or results though because there’s been a big change in personnel since that game a year ago – four of Fermanagh’s seven scorers aren’t even involved this year – Sean Quigley, Ryan Lyons (injured), Tommy McCaffrey and Ryan Jones.

Last weekend, Fermanagh trained on both Saturday and Sunday.

“There’s a good focus going into this weekend because the boys know the importance of the game, so we just spent the weekend together as much as we could, doing our analysis and training on Sunday on Brewster Park, so it was a good weekend,” said Donnelly.

With no further injuries of note, bar the long-term ACL injury to Conor McGee, Donnelly has a clean bill of health for this weekend’s game.

Fermanagh will welcome the fact they’ve a home game this weekend but the manager isn’t playing too much emphasis on it.

“You can’t be relying on it, it’s a small percentage gained but it doesn’t be the winning or the losing of the game either.”

But he is hoping that there’ll be a big show of support for the players in this crunch match.

“It always helps, the home crowd always gives an extra push for the players. So, it would be good to see a home crowd out supporting the players because they put in a big commitment all year, there’s a massive sacrifice to being a county footballer, it doesn’t suit everybody. The players always appreciate it.”

Both these teams harbour very real aspirations of reaching the Tailteann Cup final for the first time but Donnelly says they’re conscious they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball against Antrim.

“The boys realise the importance of the game, there’s no doubt about it. You progress to the semi-finals and with any team that wins and is constantly winning, always the mantra is that next game and focus on yourself and your process and that’s all we can do,” said Donnelly.

“The fact we’re young, the boys look forward and they are excited too because you’re winning championship games.

“We’ve won three on the bounce, so their confidence is high and you just look to take all those attributes into the weekend.”

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