By Mark McGoldrick
IN his first game in charge, Fermanagh manager Kieran Donnelly and his team will travel to Clones this Sunday when the Erne men take on Monaghan in their McKenna Cup opener. Inter-county teams resumed training on December 8 and the Fermanagh management have been holding a series of trials and training sessions in order to build a squad for the coming season.
Gaelic Life understands that a number of new recruits have impressed in the pre-season trials, including Ronan McCaffrey and Joe McDade.
Due to Derrygonnelly Harps’ Ulster Club involvement in the final next Sunday week against Kilcoo, their county men will be unavailable to Donnelly.
When asked who we can expect to see donning the green jersey, Donnelly says that he’ll be giving every man in his panel an opportunity to put their hand up for selection.
“That will be our approach. It will be about the players who have been training and have been committed so far to the squad and they all have.
“Anybody that has been training well and have progressed through our training sessions will be given their chance and that is what it is all about for us. We have to learn very quickly how different players respond at this level.”
The Dr McKenna Cup will provide a marker for Donnelly and his management team as to where his players are at and who is ready to make the step up to county.
With the National League starting on January 29 at home to Antrim, Donnelly feels that the McKenna Cup will help get his players up to speed and put their new game-plan into practice, before the real action begins.
“It is nice to have a focus and again, just have a plan and some brilliant prep for the National League, which it really is.”
Seamus McEnaney’s Monaghan will be a test for Fermanagh and Donnelly will know many of the players on the opposition’s side very well, having managed Scotstown for three years previously.
“To have a team of Monaghan’s calibre as your first game, it just really focuses the mind and again, gives you the chance to try a few lads in different positions leading up to the National League.”