McQuade: We want to take the step up

By Niall Gartland

FERMANAGH ladies captain Shannan McQuade recognises that they need to be proving themselves in Saturday’s Ulster Junior Championship final against Derry if they’re to carry through their ambitions of becoming a recognised team at Intermediate level.

This time last year the Erne County produced a creditable performance against Down in the Junior Championship showdown, losing out by 3-8 to 1-8.

Now under new management, Fermanagh are not only aiming to make amends for that defeat when they take on Derry at Augher this weekend, but they also want to kickstart the process of climbing up the ladies ranks.

Team captain Shannan McQuade said: “We’ve managed to compete with the likes of Leitrim who are holding their own at Intermediate level. Then we came close to Down last year, and they’ve done really well in Division Three, so going by that we’re not far away.

“Hopefully this will be the year we prove it, as we need to get out of Junior and move into the Intermediate ranks as it’ll only benefit us in the long-run to play at that higher level.”

A productive league campaign was nonethless tinged with disappointment as they ultimately fell short in their quest to achieve promotion out of Division Four. That was nearly two months ago at this stage but McQuade says it still rankles with the squad that they failed to finish the job in the league.

“As a group we obviously wanted to park it but at the same time you don’t forget about it too easily. It was hard to take, losing in the semi-final to Carlow, especially as we’d done so well until that point.

“There’s been a big gap since that point, it must be seven or eight weeks at this stage. It doesn’t suit anybody but to be fair our management team has been really good, releasing us back to our clubs for a few matches.”

Opponents Derry had a forgettable league campaign but they put in some decent performances and have some really talented players in their ranks, including a number of girls who spearheaded Steelstown’s run to Ulster Intermediate honours last year. McQuade is wary of a potential ambush this Saturday.

“Derry is a completely different team than in past years, they’ve much more depth in their panel, so you never know how it will go this weekend. A lot of Steelstown girls are available that weren’t in previous years. We played them in the league and won that game but they weren’t far away, it was level at a stage, so we’re expecting a good battle.”

Fermanagh likewise have a strong panel but one player they can’t call upon this weekend is Sarah McCarville, who is off on her travels.

McQuade commented: “We’ve more depth than in previous years and we have nearly everyone available that should be available.

“Unfortunately, we’ll be missing Sarah McCarville, she had a brilliant league campaign and was named on the team of the league. She’s away travelling and we knew about it from the start of the year but she’ll still be a miss.”

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