McGourty hoping for another fast start against Oakleafers

By Jonathan Hogan

THIS Sunday the spotlight falls on Donagh as the triumphant Fermanagh ladies, fresh from their Ulster Junior victory, step back onto the field to face Derry once again.

CJ McGourty was a keen observer in Ballymaguigan this past weekend as the Oakleaf County rebounded from their provincial final loss by impressively overcoming London (1-15 to 1-6) to kick-start their All-Ireland Junior Championship campaign.

Now, a rematch at Louis Leonard Memorial Park awaits and McGourty acknowledged that Derry cannot be underestimated after their first championship win in three years.

“It’s very important to make sure we’re on top of everything and I went to the game just to see if we could pick up any small things that we missed in the Ulster final and to learn a wee bit about London,” said McGourty.

“They (Derry) were behind at half time and then came out and had a storming second half, so they’ll grow in confidence from that.

“They’ll have one or two players back from the Ulster final as well that were away playing netball the day of it, so they’ll be a stronger outfit than they were.

“We can’t have any complacency this week and we’ll make sure that our own house is in order to get the result.”

Fermanagh were superb when the sides last met, producing a dominant first half to dismantle Derry in Augher two weeks ago. The final score of 6-14 to 0-10 told the story of a one-sided decider.

However, McGourty knows nothing can be taken for granted in football and his message ahead of this Sunday is clear.

“We’ve said all year we’ve no given right to win any football match, we must earn it and the message going in this week is to be focused,” he said.

“There’s no point thinking down the track against Sligo or Carlow or London, it’s a week-to-week basis and we need to make sure we do the correct job against Derry to get us up and running.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t beat Derry, it’s an uphill struggle for the rest of the campaign to try and qualify for a semi-final. Derry will be coming down with nothing to lose. Obviously after the Ulster final there’ll be no pressure on them, they’ve two points on the board and they’ll be looking at it as their free hit.

“We’ve just got to go out there and do a professional job, make sure we’re focused, we’ve no right to beat anybody, so we’ve to earn it on Sunday just like we did in the Ulster final.”

The early exchanges will certainly be of intrigue in Donagh after Derry suffered such a poor opening in the previous meeting, conceding 3-9.

They also trailed London by two at half time on Sunday before turning in a much more clinical second half and for McGourty, starting on the front foot is crucial.

“A fast start is important to make sure we can dictate the pace of the game, we’re always to get a fast start and it happened in the Ulster final,” he recalled.

“We tweaked things in terms of preparation, making sure we were at the ground just a little later than we normally are, the warm-up went well, and we got that fast start.

“We’ll be looking the same again this week.”

There’s been a buoyant atmosphere around the Fermanagh camp since their Ulster triumph and the team has balanced club commitments with county duties to remain fresh in the interim.

Joanne Doonan, who missed the final, is also back in contention this weekend.

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